Mind Body Spirit Image

Mind Body Spirit

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | June 11, 2024

NOW ON VOD! First, take a breath deep into your lungs. Then, exhale… while curled up in a ball, screaming while watching Mind Body Spirit, written and directed by Alex Henes and Matthew Merenda. This excellent yoga horror offering opens in an empty room with a laptop on a table. The screen shows a dark website with extreme and illegal posts under room names like “maxxximum_overdosers” and “riversofgore69.” A search for “mind body spirit” results in the video that makes up this entry into the found footage subgenre.

Once played, we see Anya (Sarah J Bartholomew) sitting cross-legged on the living room floor of the house her grandmother, Verasha (Kristi Noory), left her when she died, working on a series of yoga videos. Verasha had been estranged from the family for many years, as she abandoned Anya’s mother, Lenka (Anna Krigge), to pursue her study of the old ways of her home country.

One day, Anya finds a hidden door leading to a secret chamber with strange symbols and objects. She discovers a book dedicated to Anya, which her grandmother made with all her notes and discoveries. In its pages, Anya finds reference to an ancient healing process called “The Joining,” which is made up of several different rituals. She thinks this folk tradition angle will set her videos apart from the pack. Her successful yoga influencer friend from childhood, Kenzi (Madi Bready), guest stars in some of Anya’s videos as a favor to Lenka and isn’t impressed with what she sees as amateur hour. Kenzi is not so sure about the ritualistic take and insists viewers are not interested in old books. However, Anya presses forward, recreating the rituals as part of her yoga instruction. Soon, changes happen and things take a turn for a deep shade of strange.

“…Anya presses forward, recreating the rituals as part of her yoga instruction.”

If you watch a lot of horror movies, you have already guessed what lurks behind the curtain of Mind Body Spirit. This is on purpose, as the screenplay, from a story by Topher Hendricks, disperses several clues immediately to inform the viewer what they are in for. It makes a dark promise that it keeps, as the film far exceeds all expectations with elegance and flair. The filmmakers delivered everything I hoped this would be and then some. They steer clear of cheap jump scares, letting the dread ooze up instead of lunge out. This makes everything so scary it isn’t funny. But there are parts that are very funny, as the film works as a deft satire of influencers in general and online mysticism in particular. Several fake ads, many featuring Kenzi, play throughout and are hilarious.

Bready is devastatingly on the nose and a laugh riot. When she needs to shift gears into drama, she does it in overdrive, in a good way. The biggest acting kudos goes to Bartholomew, who easily carries the majority of the movie by herself. Sge makes Anya pathetic at first, then sympathetic, then horrific. It is a terrifying tour de force that puts this actress at the forefront of the who to watch list.

Mind Body Spirit deserves to be seen on as large a screen as possible. While it screens on a laptop within the movie, the fantastic camera work deserves as wide a view as possible. If you have one of those wall-sized televisions like a giant clam, just slap this on, and you will be freaked. The framing composition creates a feeling that you are in the room with Anya and Kenzi. The visual structure is as neat as a pin that’s about to be plunged into the middle of your forehead. Just look at the lighting in the opening and you will know the filmmakers got the flavor just right. This is everything you could ever want from a yoga horror movie. It also expands the boundaries of what the genre can achieve.

Mind Body Spirit (2024)

Directed and Written: Alex Henes, Matthew Merenda

Starring: Sarah J. Bartholomew, Madi Bready, Anna Krigge, Kristi Noory, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Mind Body Spirit Image

"…expands the boundaries of what the genre can achieve."

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