Body at Brighton Rock (2019) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Body at Brighton Rock (2019) Review

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on March 19th, 2020 | Movie Review | Survival, Wilderness, Desolate, Isolation

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It’s about a green park ranger that loses her way in the forest, and is forced to bare the woods overnight while she waits for help.

Body at Brighton Rock was directed by Roxanne Benjamin (who also directed Southbound and XX) and stars Karina Fontes, Casey Adams and Emily Althaus.

Nobody dies alone

California Park Ranger Wendy, who proves herself to be a bit of a mess between tardiness, inattention to detail, and complete reliance on technology, switches trails for the day (though she’s been cautioned against it). She veers way off course, ending up on an entirely different peak than she believes she has reached. She manages to get lost late enough in the day that she will have to bare the woods until the next day, when there is enough daylight for someone to rescue her. 

While lost, she stumbles across a body that has met a gruesome fate, and it’s unclear how the man died. Battling wildlife, a strange man with unknown intentions lurking nearby, and her own imagination, Wendy must dig within her own resourcefulness to make it long enough to be found.

Roxanne Benjamin wrote, produced and made her directorial debut in this forest-survival thriller, proving herself one of the ladies leading the forefront of the scope of new genre films. The opening scene has a campy feel that resembles 80s horror, which soon gives way to a much more serious tone. The quick cuts and zoom-ins, much like old westerns, are sandwiched in between drawn-out scenes where not much is happening - it keeps the viewer guessing, because the style is constantly changing. 

Benjamin wrote a realistic character who isn’t all-knowing or even well-suited for her environment, yet still finds herself resilient in the face of adversity. At every turn, someone - even in her own mind - is telling Wendy she’s incapable of whatever the task is at hand. But Wendy’s carefree attitude is part of her charm; we find ourselves rooting for her, even after she makes dozens of mistakes on her trek. (Karina Fontes’s performance was believable and endearing, bringing it home.) She makes up for her mistakes by doing some really important things right, empowering herself to keep going, even when she feels like she can’t.

There is little gore to be found - in one scene, it’s unclear why there is blood at all - but when the element of gore is there, it’s effectively scary. I only wish it were a more important part of the storyline. Though there are multiple elements to fear in the vast remoteness, it’s unclear which beast is the epicenter on which to center our worry. There were long periods where not much was happening, which made it less entertaining and less scary than other woods-survival horror such as Wrong Turn or Backcountry, but it definitely proved more realistic and higher quality than Into the Grizzly Maze. While Brighton Rock lacks in plot, it makes up for it in allowing the mind to wander, which is what usually takes us to the scariest places.

Worth Watching?

Yes, especially now, in a time when we may think we can’t survive in isolation. Our minds can either be our own worst enemy or our saving grace, as Wendy finds out. A last-minute twist keeps us on our toes through the very end, in keeping with the rest of the film - expect the unexpected.

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