PARAMEDICS (a.k.a. Bodies) *** USA 2016 Dir: Rodney Wilson. 98 mins
Writer-director Rodney Wilson’s small-scale, mostly three-handed film opens unpromisingly, suggesting a variant of the godawful Kane Hodder / Bill Moseley vehicle DEATH CALL (aka OLD 37) and Larry Cohen’s superbly paranoid THE AMBULANCE. It develops, however, into a smarter-than-most spin on familiar torture movie / rape revenge tropes. Fake paramedic brothers Corey (Joe Bocian) and Jeffery (Brian Landis Folkins) are in the business of organ harvesting, earning good money from unsavoury buyers and proficiently making their victims disappear. Hot headed, psychopathic Corey exploits and bosses his timid, mentally challenged brother and together they capture and torment pretty pre-med student Cindy (Jenice Marshall) after she sprains her ankle while hiking in the woods. Perceptive enough to understand and manipulate the weaknesses of the brothers, Cindy refuses to be another victim and plots to turn them against each other. Tough and sarcastic, Marshall’s transformation from captive, crippled rape victim to aggressor is a modern extension of the stronger rape revenge heroines (“Let’s call it a vagina victory!”) as she easily coerces Jeff and punctures the warped ego of sexually dysfunctional Corey. The script embraces exploitation territory with graphic gore, incest, torture and hints of necrophilia, but is strongest when playing out the constantly shifting power dynamic between the central trio. Bocian is authentically obnoxious as the initially domineering Corey, Folkins brings humanity to the vulnerable younger brother and Marshall is terrific as the emboldened avenger. The pay off, a 21st century #MeToo spin on the climax of SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, is the hokiest part of the movie but in line with the current trend, post-HALLOWEEN 2018 for multiple “final girls”.
Review by Steven West