10th Sep2018

Frightfest 2018: ‘Bodied’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Rory Uphold, Jonathan Park, Walter Perez, Shoniqua Shandai, Charlamagne Tha God, Dizaste, Debra Wilson, Anthony Michael Hall, Lisa Maley, Eddie Perino, Eric Allen Smith, Candice Renee, Daniel Rashid | Written by Joseph Kahn, Alex Larsen | Directed by Joseph Kahn


There have been plenty of movies featured at Frightfest that aren’t exactly ‘horror’ movies. They are featured for several reasons. Be it the director is more well known for genre movies or the movie is so good that it’s too good an opportunity to miss by not having it at the festival. With Joseph Khan’s Bodied, both of those reasons can apply. His previous film Detention was a comedy horror and ,as for the second part of my sentence, I’ll go into more details below but Bodied is a fantastic film!

A story about battle rap as a thesis for a student isn’t the easiest to sell to viewers who possibly have no interest in the music genre. But that’s exactly the position I was in. In fact I only watched Bodied after hearing so many positive things from its Frightfest screening. As a director Kahn is much more well known for his music videos – from Faith No More to Taylor Swift to Garbage to Eminem to Muse to… I could literally go on and on – and in the opening scenes here he does a great job of explaining battle rap to people like me but in a way that is very natural to the movie. As our main character explains to his girlfriend certain words and phrases involved in the scene. On top of that, the battle raps themselves suck you in and keep your eyes (and ears) to the screen. This is key to the rest of Bodied to, I rarely listen to rap and probably couldn’t name you more than five rappers but the battle raps are completely enthralling. Brilliantly acted and shot with Kahn’s individual style. His music video experience comes in to play at times with some over the top sound effects and little bits of CGI such as gun blast coming from people’s hands or objects that they mention while rapping, appearing very briefly. It’s never too much and gives Bodied a nice style.

But this isn’t just a movie full of battle raps, there’s some great stories being told as well. The main one involving Adam (Calum Worthy) who is a fan of battle raps and, researching it for his thesis, ends up in a battle rap himself and things escalate from there. He soon has a mentor and a group of friends through his new found ‘hobby’ that include Behn Grymm (Jackie Long), Prospek (Jonathan Park) and Devine Write (Shoniqua Shandai). As well as Worthy, these three put in standout performances. Long in particular is mesmerizing in a role that gives him so much to work with and he does it all perfectly. Worthy at 27, is more experienced than actors twice his age and after this it would be criminal if he doesn’t become a huge star. His performance is staggeringly good.

As entertaining as Bodied is, it maybe more importantly has an emotional impact to. Building to a fantastic and heart-pumping climax that you can’t take your eyes away from. Kahn obviously loves making music videos but if he continues to make movies as good as Bodied then Hollywood will be desperate for him to make more. And if they’re not listening then the horror genre will welcome him once again with open arms.

If you’re a fan of rap or not it doesn’t really matter because Bodied is simply put one of the best movies you’ll see this year.

***** 5/5

Bodied screened at Frightfest on Sunday August 27th


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