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Thursday, 27 July 2017

Retro Review: Body Double (1984)

Body Double
1984
Cast: Craig Wasson, Gregg Henry, Melanie Griffith, Deborah Shelton
Genre: Erotic Thriller
U.S Box Office Gross: over $8 million

Plot: An actor's obsession with spying on a beautiful woman who lives nearby leads to a baffling series of events with drastic consequences





'Enigmatic & Underwhelming, Body Double Should Have Offered More Excitement'

Director Brian De Palma began the 1980s with triple hits Dressed to Kill, Blowout and Scarface, but come 1984 there was Body Double: a Hitchcock-like voyeuristic offering that was slightly more glossy and a tad lighter fare, in contrast to his previously heavy efforts.

Jake Scully is an all-round simpleton and nice guy, who is also a struggling actor and claustrophobic, which in turn makes his role as a vampire who is buried in a grave, a bit more of a chore. After seeing his wife making out with another man, Jake moves on from her and starts afresh. He accepts an offer from a friend named Sam to house-sit at his luxury apartment and water his plants, whilst Sam is away. It is then that he is shown a telescope in which he gets to pry on neighbours, that include an attractive woman who lives opposite him in another apartment. When Jake sees her dancing naked, he becomes instantly fascinated with her and so he follows her. Until he notices that a strange figure is also on her tail. After witnessing her murder at the hands of this mysterious figure, Jake is under the impression that he has been set up & finds himself caught up in the middle of a murder, but with the help of Holly Buddy, he goes to depths and beyond in finding out who did it and the reason she was murdered and as he does so, the more he becomes sucked into the murky and seedy world of porn, where not everything is what it seems. 

A Rear Window style movie that gets off to a slow start, it eventually gets going an hour later. 

One major complaint I have with this film is that it takes over 60 minutes for a) the first actual killing to take effect and b) for Melanie Griffith to show up and to fully galvanize the movie. When Holly Body appears, that's when it becomes engaging. Because, for the exception of the masked killer, everything else leading up to that moment was not as inviting and exciting as it ought to have been. It takes a while for momentum to build up. It feels.... empty most of the time and it didn't grab me and pull me in straight away. The pacing was overkill for me that it was way too slow for me that I easily switched off. Usually, the slow pacing is used to build up the tension in films, but here I sensed it to be a rather distracting nuisance from the actual story and is as such, Body Double simply lacks drama and isn't as deep & it made for extremely monotonous viewing.  

Whereas Body Heat has almost the exact premise, if not the same execution, that film was a lot more watchable, partially thanks to Kathleen Turner. Body Double does try to evoke suspense through Jake's claustrophobia and at almost 2 hours long, this could have or should have had 30 mins chopped off and that all of the tension is built up, quickly and thus, making the film less of a chore to sit through. 


For a movie dubbed as an erotic thriller, Body Double is not that particularly sexually alluring or graphic enough. 

There were scenes where virtually very little was happening, very little dialogue was being uttered; just scenes of characters standing around and not doing much. & yet this is supposed to be a highly- charged thriller. The acting isn't much to ponder and nor does it make much of an impact on the film. Visually, it has a very high-end '80s style look and feel to it, but it appears that this hides the glaring fact that the narrative should have been far more enticing and dynamic. Particularly in Body Double's potency, which hasn't really been tapped into. 

The last 30 mins were better than first 1 hr 24 mins. 






Final Verdict:

It's a tad mysterious and surprisingly for a so-called erotic thriller, there are only 2 or 3 highly erotic scenes with 2 of the female characters naked. 

A nod to Hitchcock, I came away thinking that Body Double should have made the impact that I'd expected, but the fact that it took up way too much time, which didn't help with the slow pacing, meant that the momentum just didn't build up from the word go, nor was it maintained all the way through. 


Body Double, in truth and ideally, should have all added up; for all the bits of Crimes of Passion and other thrillers mixed in, the payoff isn't necessarily quite as adventurous as it was lauded by critics and as one expects.



Overall:



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