Benjamin’s mastery of these tricks is what make the truly horrifying moments so impactful. Before the creepy and bizarre begins, she has already subverted audience expectations by the rare use of jump scares and in sequences as described above. Thus, when things do get shocking, the audience feels it. Wendy, in an effort to properly secure the potential crime scene, discovers a tent and fire pit near the dead body. She calls out to see if anyone is around. No one replies. She gets near the shelter and calls out again. When she opens the tent, no one is there. There isn’t even a sign of a struggle. But, upon exiting the tent, she discovers a bleeding bag hanging in a tree.
“Horror is all about jarring one out of their comfort zone…”
Of note, especially in the scene just described is the outstanding sound design work. The wind shaking the trees go from a natural occurrence to an intense howling, suggesting Wendy’s gradually growing desperation. In the tent sequence, just before the discovery of the bleeding bag, the scraping of the rope grows incrementally louder until Wendy has convinced herself that someone, or thing, must be shaking the tent walls on purpose. These audible clues help chime the audience into Wendy’s questionable mental state.
While all the actors do an excellent job, it is Karina Fontes’s movie from start to finish. She is in every scene and her arc from naive to scared to well, you’ll see, is engaging. The audience must be on Wendy’s side from the first moments of the film and stay with her the entire time. That is a lot to ask of any actor, much less someone with only three credited roles; Body At Brighton Rock included. Fontes is so happy and fun early on, most evident in her extended dance. Her reaction to a nightmare in which the corpse rises to kill her causes Wendy to have to calm herself. The way Fontes calls into question her character’s sanity during these hallucinations, while still being relatable makes her a force to be reckoned with.
Provocatively toying with horror conventions, Roxanne Benjamin ensures maximum impact when the terror begins; though the occasional awkward edit rears its ugly head. Anchored by a star-making lead turn and sporting superb sound design, Body At Brighton Rock is a bloody good time.
Body At Brighton Rock (2019) Directed by Roxanne Benjamin. Written by Roxanne Benjamin. Starring Karina Fontes, Casey Adams, Emily Althaus, Miranda Bailey, Martin Spanjers, Susan Burke, John Getz. Body At Brighton Rock screened at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.
9 out of 10 Crags