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  • Rev Horror

Mind Body Spirit

Dir. Alex Henes & Matthew Merenda (2023)

A young woman who is attempting to start a yoga influencer career finds a hole in the wall of the house she just inherited filled with witchy paraphernalia.

I am just about the farthest thing from a hippy that you'll ever find. I've been to ONE yoga class in my entire life, and I was literally asked to leave because I couldn't do it with a straight face. I get it, though, I really do. I understand the benefits of the exercises, I get the helpfulness of being able to center oneself in a way that makes your mind at peace and focused on the tasks at hand. It's just not my deal, I guess. I do, however, take some exception to the type of lifestyle bloggers and influencers that seek to take advantage of the yoga-gullible, however, a sentiment shared by the makers of the upcoming indie horror Mind Body Spirit.

Anya (Sarah J. Bartholomew) has just inherited a house from her ostracized grandmother, moving to claim the new property despite the objections of her mother Lenka (Anna Knigge). She is attempting to start a yoga YouTube channel, using her new surroundings to refresh her life and emulate her friend Kenzi (Madi Bready), who is a superstar in the influencer space. During the filming of one of her videos, she notices a hole in the wall of a bookshelf, leading her into a hidden space in the house that is filled with all types of occult paraphernalia and a book addressed to her from her grandmother. Attempting to lead her channel in a slightly different direction, Anya undergoes the rituals described in the book and finds herself in a predictable world of trouble.

I gotta be honest, when I heard about this movie I fully expected a horror comedy making fun of the yoga community. I did not expect the film to be as intense as it most definitely is, almost from the jump as the initial moments in the film are highlighted with intense sound-focused jumpscares. Normally that's a turn off in the movie, but they are all understandable in context, never feel cheap, and work very well. Bartholomew plays a surprisingly nuanced and complicated role, and for a movie with such a small cast, she does a great job of carrying the whole film. Her rangy performance is excellent for this film, being at once endearing and scary and making the whole thing work.

Utilizing some of the tricks present in the Paranormal Activity franchise, Mind Body Spirit establishes itself as one of the next names in the supernatural "found footage" genre. This film will have you checking every corner of the screen and looking over your own shoulder as it plays with peripherals and delivers some truly creepy visuals. It lacks some of the punch of its more popular predecessors, but it is genuinely terrifying at some moments. Watching this one on a laptop, which is perhaps the perfect way to watch a film that is ostensibly a YouTube playlist of Anya's videos (complete with annoyingly pandering fake ads), gave me the absolute heebie jeebies.

Mind Body Spirit is creatively told, expertly shot, and disorientingly terrifying. I sincerely hope that this film makes its way to the masses, because this has every potential to be a new favorite. I will definitely stop short of calling it the next Paranormal Activity, but there are certain parts of the film that are absolutely as effective as its forebearer, and I made the comparison in my mind more than once when watching. If you get a chance to check this one out, I highly recommend that you do so, even if you're not a yoga practitioner.

Who this movie is for: Found footage horror fans, Supernatural horror lovers, New Age hipsters

Bottom line: Mind Body Spirit is a supernatural film that had me leaning back in my chair at times, and its one that will have you checking every corner of the screen to find things waiting to jump out at you. Despite having the perfect setup for jumpscares, it never sinks to those levels and instead provides a legitimately scary paranormal indie horror. Kudos to the filmmakers, and if you get a chance to check this one out, you owe it to yourself to do so.

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