Pulse Movie Review: Emem Isong's “Body Language” is short on tension and suspense

Posted on Oct 25 2017 - 3:11pm by admin

A collaboration between Royal Arts and Rok Studios, “Body Language” is labelled a Psychological thriller by the producers, which means that it’s expected to lay emphasis on the psychological state of its characters.

You would also walk into the cinema expecting a movie that incorporates elements of mystery, drama, action and horror.

Produced by Emem Isong, the movie was helmed by Moses Inwang, who directed “Alter Ego” and “Stalker.”

The official synopsis reads: When a mysterious stranger comes into a stripper’s life, at the same time a serial killer goes around town murdering ladies, one has to wonder if it is a mere coincidence or an ominous design of fate?

play Body Language starts with the death of Anita, a skilled stripper

“Body Language” begins well enough. We are introduced to Anita, a skilled stripper, who isn’t loved by her colleagues because she gets all the attention from the men. We also meet Amber, a gentle looking stripper, who admires Anita and wants to learn from her. Few minutes into the movie, Anita is murdered by a serial killer who derives pleasure from murdering young women.

Shortly after Anita’s death, we are introduced to Nick, an enigmatic billionaire, who is wiling to pay 1000 dollars every night to watch Amber strip – a performance he is never truly interested in. You begin to wonder why he spends so much for an act he has no interest in. You start assuming that he is the killer and watching the strippers perform before he kills them is part of his modus operandi.

In a surprising twist, the audience find out that Amber has an alter ego, Tola, a well paid and successful marketer. You then begin to wonder why she strips. You cook up reasons such as: She probably has an ailing child. Or perhaps, she is a twin.

These events unleash a series of questions that leave you guessing what the movie is truly about: Perhaps it is about an enigmatic billionaire who falls in love with a stripper – It could be about a working class lady who has to strip to take care of an ailing relative – Or maybe it’s a movie about a serial killer who falls in love with an intended victim – Or maybe it’s just a movie about learning body language.

These ‘complex’ situations are present to add eccentricity to the story, but instead they work together to sacrifice the audience’s attention on the altar of confusion.

 

The basic premise – someone targeting young women – should have made the  story petrifying. Unfortunately, “Body Language” which is supposed to come off as a thriller, succeeds in being more of a puzzle than a meaningful thriller.

The writer, producer and director of “Body Language” seem to be uncertain about its genre: what seemingly kicks off as a whodunit morphs first into a psychosexual thriller and finally into something more like comedy.

For instance, when a likely victim is set to meet with the assumed killer over dinner, it is presented in a humorous manner that makes it impossible for the audience to show any sort of empathy. This is probably because “Body Language” doesn’t offer the audience  a character to root for: They all sometimes seem deranged,  kind, human and strange.

Even the climatic fight between the killer and ‘victim’ is short on tension and suspense, but big on humour and a twist.

The movie has the kind of required plot twists that make thrillers work. But while it has twists and turns for the audience to enjoy, it still leaves important ‘why’ and “how” questions unanswered.

The killer is clearly a psychopath, however, there is nothing in his/her background to indicate insanity, post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. We are offered a motive that isn’t strong enough for the actions to have any significant impact.

Nevertheless, its twist will earn plenty of applause and sounds of surprise.

It is slightly incoherent in how these supposed grisly murders are solved. For a psychological thriller that involves murder, you would normally expect the persistent sense of danger, tension,  or even a sort of collaboration with the police, but all these are missing.

Even when the police eventually make an appearance in the closing scene, it comes off as a satire on the institution, eliciting laughter from the audience.

The cast of “Body Language” deliver believable performances. As Nick, a weird billionaire and murder suspect, Nouah’s face must do most of the acting here, and he rises to the occasion. His character thrives on enigma; a quality he equally embodies to perfection.

Adelena is impressive as Amber/Tolu. She delivers an  impressively smooth transition from innocent to a fascinating sexpot.

The supporting cast are reduced to comic relief characters – from Amber’s boyfriend (Ken Erics) to her boss at the club (Emem Ufot).

The music in “Body Language” is lively enough to hold an audience’s interest. With tracks such as Nonso Amadi’s “Tonight,” we are drawn into the seductive world of a stripper.

 

For some reason, the movie comes off as a great work of literature that doesn’t translate well onto the screen. The tension is less penetrating than it should be. It is rarely frightening, but offers a jolt or two and a few laughs.

If you’re looking for a thriller that gives you the shivers, don’t look here.

“Body Language” is currently showing in cinemas.

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