Horror is an interesting genre, in that, it very much relies on the individual in the sense that we're all frightened by different things. While it may be, in some ways, easy to say whether or not something is generally "good" like The Conjuring or maybe not-so-good like Troll 2, it's more difficult to say what will and won't scare people in a broad sense. That having been said, Body at Brighton Rock scared the living hell out of me personally and I have to imagine I won't be alone in that one.
Body at Brighton Rock centers on a part-time employee at the Brighton Rock state park by the name of Wendy. She decides to take on a difficult trail assignment on her lonesome so that her friend can flirt with a guy she likes. Beyond that, Wendy is trying to prove that she's capable of doing the job. After a mostly successful shift, she unfortunately takes a wrong turn and gets lost. To make matters worse, she stumbles upon a dead body and, as the only park ranger present, she must stay with the body overnight until the authorities get there. This proves to be even more troubling than it seems on the surface as the mystery deepens and, as night falls, the terrors of being lost in the woods with a dead body continue to present themselves.
There are few things, in my view, as scary as being stuck alone in the woods at night with few provisions to survive is terrifying on its own. Throw in the unfortunate element of becoming responsible for a dead body, a body that may or may not be part of a crime scene, and it becomes exponentially more terrifying. This movie plays up that isolated type of fear in a way that made me totally unsettled for the better part of 90 minutes. Again, I can only speak to personal experience. But for those who have similar fears, this is going to be a frightening ride.
Director Roxanne Benjamin, who makes her solo feature directorial debut here, plays up any and all fears that could come one's way in just such a scenario. What happens when the only form of communication with the outside world is taken away? What if an unexpected human presence of the living variety is thrown in the mix? And what about bears? Not only that, but there's the idea of being so scared that the mind starts playing tricks, blurring the lines between reality and internal fear. Because Wendy, played by Karina Fontes in a rather nice turn for her, is alone almost the entire time, it's such an isolated, specific type of horror. The excellent sound design contributes a great deal to the effectiveness of this movie's scares.
While not a slasher flick, this does take a great deal of inspiration from movies of that type from the late 70s and early 80s. Some of the performances in the early part of the movie seem a bit stiff, however, it suits the vibe and once things get going, it hardly matters. Certain elements are a bit rough around the edges. This isn't the most polished piece all around. But it's big scares with a small budget. Manage expectations accordingly.
That having been said, the core idea is executed exceptionally well. I'll say this much; whatever Roxanne Benjamin does next, I will be paying attention. Possibly with my hands partially covering my eyes like I'm a frightened grade schooler who is watching a scary movie he shouldn't be watching, but paying attention nonetheless. Debuting at SXSWBody at Brighton Rock hits theaters on April 26 from Magnolia Pictures.