Directed by Kerry Douglas Dye & Jordan Hoffman
2007—98 Minutes/Full Screen
DVD Provided by Cinema Epoch
Review by Heather Drain
The prison of neurosis is a tangible fear for a lot of Americans in this modern age of germ warfare, rampant classism, and So You Think You Can Dance. A person finds his or herself in the position where they feel helpless. Just another slave to the machine. The economy is bad, everyone with a title is corrupt, your wife/husband left you, an old friend dies, etc., etc. It can be this and any other number of elements that can trigger compulsion, like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). It is this exact disorder that is only the tip of the dysfunctional iceberg for our hero Kip (Robert Gomes) in the 2007 modern day indie noir with a twist BODY/ANTIBODY. Imagine BODY HEAT slathered with Germ X and throw in a dash of dismemberment and torture.
Kip is a young, good-looking guy who gets to live the dream of staying at home and working on his computer. He is also an intense germophobe and shut-in who prefers the company of astringent and soap to his fellow humans. He phrases this point of his life as “calculated efficiency” to his shrink (Deborah Gibson). He may have all of the joy and verve of a coma case, but his life is at least calm. However, like an antiseptic house of cards, it all is shaken up when he gets a glimpse of his neighbor across the hall, Celine (Leslie Kendall). He peers through his cracked open front door like a scared voyeur, and gets a glimpse of pale thigh and décolletage. As soon as they make eye contact, he slams the door like a frightened rabbit. But like the old song says, just one look and the wheel is in motion.
Soon he habitually peers through his keyhole and plays pocket pool, until Celine ends up worming her way into his home and life. Like a horny and fickle house cat, it doesn’t take long before she goes messing up his order of things and seducing him. Not that it is hard to do, especially since it's been a veritable coon's age since Kip has familiarized himself with the mysterious and messy ways of the dirty hula. Speaking of which, we then get a spiffy sex montage that made me nostalgic for those un-halcyon days of staying up late due to insomnia and watching bad “erotic” thrillers on Cinemax (aka Skinemax) in my teens. All that is missing is the really hideous soft jazz music and fake boobies (Kendall is mercifully natural looking, if not downright winsome).
Things get cozy between the two dysfunctional lovers until a tiff starts off the next round of disorder for Kip, this time involving her psycho-ex Andy (Frank Deal). Andy, looking all the world like a smug ex-car dealer, starts terrorizing Kip, first by loudly abusing Celine and then by going directly after him. Employing a mix of psychological terrorism, involving Kip's fear of uncleanliness and outright physical harm, it will all end in blood and tears. Somewhere in there, a noir-ish subplot comes up involving Andy and Celine trying to usurp Kip's rent control status on his multi-room pad.
BODY/ANTIBODY is an interesting if not entirely successful stew of a movie. There are good things going on here and the first half of the film, labeled “Part One: Body” shows a lot of promise as a character study of sorts. The interaction with Gomes and Kendall is entertaining and the mutual unhealthiness of both Kip and Celine plays out really well. It's funny that as soon as Andy shows up, the plot and the film itself take a weird turn. The whole torture/horror section with the three of them feels really inorganic, with the rest of the movie upsetting the previously established flow. Having jarring plot turns and twists and elements can work beautifully, but you really have to be careful about how you do it. Otherwise it just feels like a puzzle piece added in as an afterthought.
The acting is uniformly good, with Gomes being a real standout as the petrified and very human Kip. Kendall's girl next door good looks make her a unique femme fatale and she certainly does her best with what is in all actuality a really annoying character. To the point that it makes sense that Andy, an even more annoying character, would have dated her. There is a good lesson to be learned here, though, and that is if the object of your desire starts getting competitive about who is the bigger dysfunction case, run like hell! The nookie is not worth it. Your hand might not be as exciting but you won't have to file a restraining order against it later on down the road.
The camerawork is also really good and the design of Kip's sterile pad is near perfect, from the white on whites to the meticulous order of his shampoo bottles. Also his love of pickling assorted fruits and veggies is a cute, quirky touch and the layout of that is fantastic. For all the world, it looks like something Patrick Bateman would have done if he was competing in a County Fair canned goods contest.
Cinema Epoch has done their usual good job with this DVD release, including such hefty extras as director's commentary, deleted scenes, still gallery, and a trailer. It's good to see a company taking a chance on the more unique films out there. Some of them might be hit or miss, but at least it is something different than your average genre flick. BODY/ANTIBODY is a film with some interesting twists and good lead acting. It has a strong start and while it ultimately grows weaker, it is not your typical horror movie.