A hybrid of The Grudge and End Of Watch, this Mary J Blige chiller has a deep rooted message within its story, but sells itself short in the scares…..
For some strange reason the use of Police Body Cams has been a focus of a few things that I have been watching over the last few weeks. Not only are the devices included in my weekly fix of Nathan Fillion doing his cop duties in the enjoyable The Rookie, but I was recently entertained with the Naomie Harris actioner Black and Blue, which used the body cams as a huge focus for its storytelling.
While the aptly titled Body Cam shares a lot in common with the Harris flick, here director Malik Vitthal tries his best to mix up two genres of film, one being a police drama about social issues, while the other of a vengeful ghost, with the end result being a very much mixed bag.
Mary J. Blige plays Renee Lomito, a cop who after suffering a personal tragedy, ends up back in work and on her first shift stumbles on the mystery of an abandon police car with no sign of her fellow colleague.
Viewing the dashcam, she notices something very bizarre which starts a chain of supernatural events all connected to a mystery woman, a looming ghostly figure and some police officers who would rather some secrets stay buried.
Its the police aspect that the film is at its most strongest. While the mystery itself is something we have seen countless times before, the dim lit scenes along with the use of torches reminds you of a 90’s style thriller and with the astute direction by Vitthal, there is a familiar and enjoyable feel to it.
But while all that is well and good, being sold as a horror flick means we must judge it purely on that basis and its here that Body Cam feels tired and stale. The lack of serious scares and sense of dread means that for most of the running time, it feels kind of a drag in which nothing really happens to move the plot forward.
Its strange that the actual incident that starts this ghostly vengeful flick is more scarier than the horror scenes that try so hard. The grounded reality of the brutality flashpoint had me shaking my head in disgust and its here that I realised that while this is a bold attempt to bring social issues into the genre, similar films like Get Out somehow struck the right balance in delivering the message it wanted to tell.
There will be some horror fans out there that will find a lot to enjoy within this tale and for a film that bypassed cinema due to the real life crisis and headed straight for a digital launch, should find some joy as a rental.
But for me, the horror side lacked the “bite” it desperately needed to match the serious undertones that the plot was offering and somehow by mixing the two themes, the real message of police and their rightful duty, sort of gets lost.
If this film proves anything to us is that we don’t need the figure of a murderous ghost to bring terror, its us humans that are the real monsters….