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“BODY CAM” Haunting and Horrifying



Review by John Delia

Gritty and horrifying the film Body Cam takes you into the lives of police officers that find themselves tracking a mystical killer. Haunting at times, the film features excellent production values that add to the thrilling storyline. Nicely directed, acted and choreographed it’s available for home viewing on Digital, VOD and the many platforms listed below. If you like your terror with a lot of violence and mystery, this crafty script will treat you to plenty of it.

It’s a new day in Los Angeles and Police Officer Renee Lomito-Smith (Mary J. Blige) has just returned to the force. Due to an incident involving her slapping a perpetrator she was forced to serve an 8 months forced leave of absence. On camera, the incident went viral and she’s been the butt of many jokes and gags. Reassigned to night duty for her behavior she’s given a new partner Danny Holledge (Nat Wolff). He’s a rookie that’s near the end of his training and can’t wait to get a partner of his own choosing. It’s not the best day to be coming back to a beat as the TV press has released a story to the city that two LA police officers that were involved the killing of an African American were acquitted.

Mary J. Blige as Police Officer Renee Lomito-Smith in BODY CAM from Paramount Pictures

One night while on patrol Lometo and Holledge get a call for back-up and when they arrive on the scene they find an empty police cruiser with some damage. On the hood of the car are some human tissue and several teeth. They call the station and before long the scene is crawling with police officers and evidence collectors. During a walk around they find the mutilated body of Officer Kevin Gamming (Ian Casselberry) hanging from a building.

The film goes on from there as Lomito and Holledge investigate by looking for possible clues to the perpetrator of the killing of Gamming. Director Malik Vitthal follows his first indie drama Imperial Dreams with this wild cop thriller. It’s a higher budget than his last movie and you can see he has used every dime in bringing Body Cam to audiences. Shot in nighttime lighting, he achieves a lot of scary scenes following the buddy cops dealing with the crime, especially with a city upset with what they think was an injustice. He adds an entity early on adding some real horror moments and takes his story into some nice twists.

Mary J. Blige as Police Officer Renee Lomito-Smith and Nat Wolff as Danny Holledge in BODY CAM from Paramount Pictures

Performances by a very good cast help the film keep its dark image as they show a lot of angst within the police force. Dealing with it, Vitthal’s two main characters Lomito and Holledge get the brunt of the torment. As Holledge, Nat Wolff, has risen to the middle of the acting food chain with some 32 credits and several of which have been released in the past 5 years. Here he does a nice job taking the rookie into his partner’s mess and then a disaster of his own. He’s open to following Lomito’s lead, but is also being a bit standoffish when it comes to investigating the crime that has fallen into their lap.

But the film’s energy is provided with a fine performance by Mary J. Blige. Who would have believed that one of our best known and respected singers could bring this tough, cagy and determined cop to the screen? She dives right into her role putting herself in harm’s way with attitude and nails it. Torn by personal loss and trying to prove she can do her job, she takes a lot of risks and puts her life on the line. Bring it girl, lets see more of your edgy side. A tip of the hat to an amazing acting show by Blige.

Mary J. Blige as Renee Lomito-Smith finds a boy alone in the street in BODY CAM from Paramount Pictures

For you budding filmmakers you’ll want to experience the opening scene over and over. It’s amazingly tense and you can feel the terror build. After a short cut to 12 hours previous, Director Vitthal then starts the horror all over again for a scary and bloody aftermath. The special effects sound with the drumming of the wiper blades on the police cruiser combined with the sound of a torrential rainstorm is totally mesmerizing. The tension builds as Officer Gamming approaches the van and looks inside. The camera work is so good it gives the feel that you are in the scene with the cop as he experiences the horror. Vitthal provides some slow moving critical beats and then puts all the elements in motion. It’s a great scene to school on.

Body Cam has been rated R by the MPAA for bloody violence, grisly images, and language throughout. It is available Tuesday on Digital, VOD, and following platforms Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, Sony PlayStation Video, FandangoNOW and more.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A thriller from start to finish. (4.5 out of 5 stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Mary J. Blige, Anika Noni Rose, Nat Wolff, Theo Rossi, David Zayas
Directed by: Malik Vitthal
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Crime Thriller
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, grisly images, and language throughout
Running Time: 1 hr. 32 min.
Opening Date: May 19, 2020
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Released in: Digital, VOD, and following platforms Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, Sony PlayStation Video, FandangoNOW and more.

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