When it comes to directorial debuts there seems to be the trend of knocking it completely out of the park or crashing and burning spectacularly. Obviously, there are many factors that go into the results but for every Citizen Kane there seems to be its Date Movie. With the spectrum though there are bound to be the outliers that fall into the middle ground. The films that are perfectly average, that has all the beats needed to consider it a film but not excel at any of them. Body Farm does everything a horror movie needs to do to make it so and then stops before it overstays its welcome.
It has been days since Justyne (Genevieve Weiss) left to do a story on a body farm research facility and Erik (Brandon Keenan) is beginning to worry when he receives a text telling him to bring the rest of the filming crew with him. Upon arrival, the place already seems off and that doesn’t even include the cell block of ravenous prisoners. After some film work and a little searching, there is still no sign of Justyne and their boss is now missing too. As the situation gets worse and worse they have to decide if they will have to abandon their friends, that is if they can get out of the facility alive.
If there is one this that Body Farm does well, it is using its budget effectively. For a meager budget of $35,000 the film has great locations, a good amount of actors, and doesn’t look too bad visually. While there are moments where the effects are lacking and a sheriff’s office is clearly someone’s home, everything is acceptable if not good considering the budget. If the money needed to go somewhere a bit more it would be the sound department to fix some seriously distracting mixing.
What Body Farm doesn’t do well, and where adequate isn’t enough, is in the story. In a film where the characters are going to a mysterious location looking for a lost friend, we want to have some investment in seeing these characters live or find their friend alive. As it stands the film is full of bland, one-note characters that might as well be pigs to the slaughter with how interesting they are. Removing the characters and just looking at the plot, there isn’t anything engaging to be found. While the film never becomes incomprehensible or monotonous, it never rises about a flatline with only twitches of excitement.
There is The Dark Knight Joker quote that has been used to death about dying a hero or living long enough to be the villain that can translate to directorial debuts. No one wants their film to bomb and be heralded as a failure but we live in a time where all art, even if poorly executed, will find its fans. Many of us would rather see a dumpster fire than anything in the standard, average, adequate film category that Body Farm, unfortunately, may find itself in.
6 out of 10