Many cinema viewers usually favorite movies in each genre, such as in the crime or police base storylines from Colors (1988) to Falling Down (1993) and likely any of the Dirty Harry movies, yet it is strangely rare when police themed flicks don’t marry into the horror vein, one would think these two could converge easily, however it often does happen with the psychological thrillers i.e. The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Well, I recall seeing the trailers for this film in theaters, but with Covid-19, I lost track of it, thankful Paramount Pictures offered a review link to me, and I thank them for that, however it won’t affect or sway this review. When seeing Nicholas McCarthy’s name attached to this film as screenwriter, I could only imagine how the story would unfold, with his skills for creating dark and fearful tales as he did with Holidays (2016) and The Pact (2012), however joining on this adventure was Richmond Riedel, who had previous experience with editing on Vampires (1998). Director Malik Vitthal, heading up his first horror film, made to some bloodshed, and plenty paranormal aspects, though leaned more to thriller with mystery elements sprinkled sporadically into the mix, hence clearly showing a rocky path ahead for the viewers on this ride-along.
This is a very fresh film release therefore I’m going to skimp on major plot points without revealing too much, however it leads to a problem, which is the movie contained potholes, but anyway let’s dive in on Body Cam. There’s likely no one anywhere who doesn’t know of this term, with so many camera phones, GoPros and drones, everyone is filmed, these videos become second nature when proving or disproving points with the new online. The story opens with a city on heightened alert after a police involvement causing controversary, herein real-life briefly shown in art expressionism but then quickly moves past this initial set-up and prepares for the main story to take place; which involves a freaky incident occurring, then the it flashes back to 12-hours earlier; unsure why not just telling the a straight forward narrative storyline. Entering into the story Renee (Mary J. Blige) an officer handling plenty of stress and the recent loss of her young son drowning in a neighbor’s pool, her husband, who is an after-thought character, actually not needed in the movie at all. That night, is her first time back at rollcall from serving probation for striking a civilian in public caught a on a body cam, she’s handed the rookie Danny (Nat Wolff (Death Note )) assigned by her Sergeant Kesper (David Zayas). As she prepares her shop (police car) for the night patrol Danny and other officers give each other knowing glances, foreshadowing is afoot. Shortly, after they get a call for police assistance and discover a crime scene of an officer murder, she breaks protocol and witnesses dash footage of a woman she knew Taneesha (Anika Noni Rose) along with other things. They find the officer with a scene that some horror fans might recalled from First Power (1990), soon others arrive including detective Hayes (Lara Grice (Mask Maker )), but the direction of the scene is very sloppy, a tv-crime-drama could handle it better, shown here just rapidly moving their flashlights around. Soon another two officers confront the suspects, but meet a paranormal circumstance that no training prepared them for, or is it much deeper – fate, guilt and unstoppable force that seeks retribution for a past crime. As the movie continues Renee gets the opportunity to act out a scene from Lights Out (2016) and soon she discovers the hideous secrets but at what cost?
There are problems galore throughout the movie, first the basics, often these movies do far better as dramas, that incorporate grieving family members, interpersonal conflicts, and workplace feuds, herein they incorporate a ghostly presence which doesn’t excite rather brings dullness. It appears a struggle took place of how to make it scary yet give social commentary with shakily special effects. The story spends too much time in certain areas (again I am omitting exactly whereas not to reveal the plot) leading to a muddled second act but gets the story back on track later in the third act and wraps it up with a bow at the end. That’s not what horror fans want, pretty bow and wrapping paper conclusions, the attitude to leave the audience thinking the evil is still not done.
Simply, if you enjoy ghostly revenge movies, then this might thrill you, be forewarned the ending is a bit mushy for the horror crowd, no false ending that likely find in Carrie (1976) or Friday the 13th (1980). There’re moments of violence and sheer terror, yet makes the mistake of showing the ‘monster’ too early, a common mistake; in Alien (1979) they wait a long time before showing the full size creature, giving the audience shock and awe, here you get a sigh.
Tagline: Protect. Serve. Survive.
IMDb Rating: 5.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10