The very nature of being a fan of the horror genre is a willingness to suspend common sense in order to allow oneself to get swept away in a fantastical narrative. Body Farm is such a ridiculous movie that it robs the viewer of the ability to participate in this basic pact between fan and creator. Directed by Brandon Keenan and Nick LaMantia, Body Farm dives into the murky world of
The Basics of Body Farm
Where to begin? Our band of characters are co-workers at a videography company that somehow is small enough to have our lead character complaining about having to edit too many wedding DVDs (hey, remember those?), but also asks the audience to believe that these same people would be tasked with making a documentary on the mysterious facility, The Body Farm, after a suspicious flash drive (yes, really) arrives at the office after the disappearance of their colleague Justyne Carver.
The titular facility in this film is based on a real place of the same name where law enforcement officials and forensic scientists go to receive training to better ‘read’ and analyze a crime scene. It’s the kind of place where your Dr. Temperance Brenans from Bones and Abby from NCIS would go as part of their career preparation in real life. Given this context, I have to admit that I was initially excited to review this film because it seemed like a concept that would be ripe for a horror movie reimagining.
However, I could not have anticipated what the Body Farm film would actually be like. For some reason, there’s a heavy law enforcement presence at the facility, and one of our merry band of filmographers is immediately taken away from the group by a cop upon arrival. Not that anyone questions this or seems to think this is unusual in any way. The remaining characters enter what is supposed to be a forensic facility but enter a lock-up instead for some reason that’s never totally explained.
Our characters have to navigate through the rowdy cell block in order to meet with the doctor who runs the Body Farm. As they do so, there are people in cells literally reaching out and grabbing the characters and yelling at the police officer who is tasked with escorting the group to their meeting. Again, not that any of our characters indicate that they think finding a jail at the facility is unusual by any means.
It is at about this time in the short 75-minute film that bad and inaccurate science begins to run amok. While giving our auspicious would-be documentarians a tour of the facility, the doctor in charge claims that the headless body that the group is looking at was particularly hard to dismember because *checks notes* rigor mortis had set in. Now, I am not a scientist by any means, and even without anything remotely resembling proper scientific training, I found myself yelling ‘What’ at my computer monitor to the chagrin of my cats.
For anyone who may not be aware, rigor mortis sets in within a few hours of death and then dissipates in about 24-hours. I found myself taken out of the narrative as I wondered if the staff at the facility were lazy or just not lazy enough to forego incorrectly mentioning this natural process to visitors.
Furthermore, in the bad science department, it is revealed that the reason the Body Farm exists is because a relative of the doctor was denied a transplant. This was not due to a lack of organs (which would have been believable because that is an unfortunate reality). No, this person was denied their transplant because they had *checks notes* AB negative blood that the doctor tells the audience and the camera guys is *checks notes again* “Rarer than pearl”.
Again, not a scientist by training, so I paused the film to ask Dr. Google about blood types and transplants. So, yes, while it is true AB negative is the rarest blood type—according to Google only 1% of the US population has this blood type, given that the O blood type is the universal donor, having the AB negative blood type wouldn’t be enough to preclude one from obtaining an organ transplant. It was just lazy writing, as the medical system is so rife with roadblocks to such things. Why offer such a flimsy premise?
But it’s not all bad, even if there’s a lot of ick to be found. The special effects team did a wonderful job throughout the whole film making sure that all of the carnage was absolutely believable and gruesome. From the very beginning of the film, where the audience gets a first-person perspective of everything from blood and guts falling to the floor, disembodied heads to cavernous head wounds. The gore is of a much higher quality than the story or the rest of the production value.
However, torture porn classics like the first Saw illustrated that it is possible to have great gore and a great story. The disconnect between the quality of the blood and guts and the narrative only serves to underscore how bad this movie is.
One of the beauties of the horror genre is that it’s always been a space where independent and low-budget films can flourish and have a built-in fan base that’s willing to support smaller films. Usually, this is a good thing that allows for a variety of creators to enter the space by clearing a lower bar than they might encounter in making films in a different genre. Then you see a film like Body Farm, and it makes you question if perhaps we should collectively be more discerning.