Mind Body Spirit

Mind Body Spirit
Mind Body Spirit
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Whomst among us said found footage horror was dead? LOLA 2020 – a master piece though not terrifying like Mind Body Spirit, coming out on digital platforms this week. If it sounds like yoga, that’s because part of it is. This movie hits a lot of notes: horror, found footage, yoga, supernatural and more. Yoga once helped Giancarlo Esposito bring his iconic Breaking Bad character to life but a fictional movie like Mind Body Spirit warns that such practices can run haywire when combined with the wrong elements.

This fun little subgenre of cinema must feel limitless to directors Alex Henes and Matthew Merenda with what they do here. Which is why it comes as no surprise that Welcome Villain Films is releasing this horror entry — the same studio that brought you Beaten to Death (hard-to-watch) and Malum (terrifying) not too long ago.

It’s always funny to hear about those TikTok or Instagram celebs who didn’t have to go through the whole “rags to riches” story because they never had rags in the first place. Ah yes, that explains how certain people were able to drop everything and start their career on social media without having to worry about working a job etc… With Anya (played by the dynamite Sarah J Bartholomew), it wasn’t dolla-dolla-bills that backed her dream — it was a house she inherited from her estranged and now deceased grandmother.

What should she do with the space? Well thankfully for all of us aging adults, Anya conveniently finds herself at a crossroads in her career trajectory. So she decides to start filming herself as she embarks on what I imagine will be an incredibly deep spiritual journey given her new job description: Yoga Influencer… naturally.

Mostly where cliches fall by the wayside is during said “spiritual journey” because with Anya, it comes in the form of a ritualistic practice she’s trying to tackle after finding some hidden away books in her grandma’s mysterious home. I mean why not right? Anya is clearly game, as is any influencer desperate for any opportunity to get more clicks than the YouTuber next channel over from them and she even tries to bring her findings to a family friend and fellow fitness guru, Kenzi (Madi Bready).

Here’s the kicker though — Kenzi has a wildly popular channel herself (evidenced by the high quality promotional videos Mind Body Spirit uses while splicing up found footage clips of Anya) and so when she comes over to visit Anya and realizes how excited Anya is about her grandma’s lost treasures… things get weird. So she leaves. Which means now Anya is all alone inside this ever-so-creepy house of hers.

Lenka, Anya’s mother (Anna Knigge), isn’t the only one who isn’t “game” for her newfound passion to be live-streamed to the world. When she was alive, she and Anya’s grandmother grew very apart. Now all that is left is the books in front of Anya’s laptop webcam — and a worried long-distance mom who can only communicate via FaceTime. This supernatural frightfest thrives on messy family dynamics: The mother-daughter-grandma relationship imbues the story with some much-needed humanity, while still wrapping it up in enough “messy family” tropes to give certain millennials PTSD. Lenka gives a look on FaceTime when Anya gets all jazzed about her grandma’s archives that tells us she knows something sinister we don’t — or at least Anya doesn’t — know yet. Oof.

The found footage approach does keep us guessing at times, though having the camera pan side-to-side takes you right out of it — as if now suddenly real-world filmmakers are manipulating this image blatantly before our eyes. But maybe they are? Maybe now spirits have awoken inside Anya’s new home and are taking action with her webcam.

Of course, cinephiles will weigh in on forums about this particular stylistic choice soon.

Mind Body Spirit also falls victim to certain story tropes, even with occasional shock-value moments; we all know where this is going (generally) after Anya invites Kenzi back for an unexpected second visit. Why try to rekindle after they butted heads over Anya’s strange obsession with her new spiritual quest? You’ll see why. Let’s just say “mind,” “body,” and/or “spirit” may or may not be consumed here in some way or another. It feels contained because of its sole location, but it’s a wild ride that won’t let you catch your breath. Welcome Villain Films’ Mind Body Spirit is now available on digital platforms.

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