FilmQuest Review: Dead Body

I have to sympathize with modern young filmmakers. Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper and Wes Craven really used up most of the original microbudget horror concepts. I’m not saying Dead Body is the next Evil Dead, but I applaud them for putting their own stamp on the cabin in the woods horror.

A party game turns real when a group of high school graduates start playing the murder mystery Dead Body, in which players draw cards to find out if they are the murderer or the victim. They quickly discover someone is really killing all of them.

First we are introduced to a whole lotta bodies for fodder. Dominic (Jay Myers) thought he was only inviting Ilsa (Rachel Brun) over, with the two Japanese exchange students (Koe Sakuta and Miho Aizawa) he’s stuck with. But Ilsa invited many more, including Dwayne (Cooper Hopkins), Sarah (Leah Pfenning), Marcus (Spencer Hamp), Rumor (Nick Morden) and Eli (Nathan Pringle). Dominic isn’t happy but it’s more fun for us when the murders begin.

The point of the game Dead Body is to make friends manipulate each other and reason through the mystery. When it happens for real, the paranoia is really effective, leading many of the innocent characters to kill the wrong people. Their reasoning is smart based on the information they have, and the way they debate their decisions is scarier than the murders, because you realize you would be vulnerable to that line of reasoning too.

The cast convincingly portrays the trauma and panic of finding their friends murdered and trying to stay alive. It’s also sweet to see them awkwardly connect like real teenagers in the beginning. The red herrings are delicious because they’re so perfect they just have to be decoys.

While I may have had a good guess as to who the real killer would be, the motive was a real surprise. It’s all their in the setup. How didn’t I see it? It is effectively dismissed so that it doesn’t stand out too early.

Director Bobbin Ramsey gets some good shots in the woods with beams of light shooting through smokey, frosty night. There’s a lot of fun gore in the murders as well.

Hopefully Dead Body will find a distributor out of its film festival showings. I’d like to see more from Ramsey, the cast and writers Ian Bell and Ramon Isao.