Bodies Bodies Bodies
I was very excited to see a horror movie at my favorite screen in town, the IU Cinema. The director of the cinema gave a tiny talk before the movie and she gave a mini history of the slasher film and later post-modern self-referential reactionary slashers like Scream. With a huge smirk on her face she guaranteed we would enjoy this film, and judging from my reactions and the large audience of mostly college students, she was absolutely right.
It opens with two young women kissing…and kissing…and kissing. If you know anything about slasher films you know this is an in your face (pun intended) middle finger to the impending slasher, whoever they may be. A hallmark of slasher films was always sexuality. Even if the couple is in love and really nice people, sex without marriage was a death sentence. How much worse is it for two queer girls?
Sophie tells Bee she loves her, and does NOT get a response but takes her to the hurricane party at her best friend’s house anyway. It’s not really a house so much as an estate and once the bad weather hits they’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with no light except emergency exit signs. Sophie tells Bee not to worry, she’ll get used to them. After an awkward meeting with the young, rich friends who have known each other a long time, and loads of booze, drugs and flailing around to loud music, the group absorbs Bee and everyone is having a good time. For a while. After a vicious slapping game gets out of hand, they decide to play Bodies Bodies Bodies, in which a killer is secretly chosen and after they kill someone the person who finds them lying on the floor yells out the phrase and everyone gathers around the “body” to decide who is the killer. It’s like a murder mystery episode of Big Brother.
The screenplay is stellar. All the ancient tropes are covered, like deeply introducing all the victims and foreshadowing their demise while laying seeds of doubt about their character and possible guilt. For instance Jordon, standing uncomfortably close, warns Bee about serially monogamous Sophie. She’s also a little too into the slapping game, where Bee can’t bring herself to hit anyone hard. So we learn Jordan and Sophie were once an item and she’s not averse to violence, where Bee seems innocent and timid. There are a lot of malicious undercurrents among the long-time friends, and lots of not so under currents. The audience is supposed to be left guessing who the killer is, and this screenplay doesn’t disappoint. There were other brilliant notes, but I really can’t talk about them without ginormous spoilers.
Beyond the ton of red herrings and misleads, the humor is fun. I saw the film with a mostly target audience – young people. Slashers have always been meant for them. They laughed more often than me, but I’m not surprised to not get all of the modern references. My favorite was the sick burn of telling a character her parents are Upper. Middle. Class. You had to be there, it was super funny. The script also completely skewered a problem horror movies took a long time to overcome. The cell phone. This is possibly the best of the new wave of cell phone use in a horror movie, especially after the lights go out in the mansion and lighting the movie becomes important. I was terribly impressed with the ambient lighting choices in this film. Not only did it never get too dark to see, but suspense was heightened, characters became easy to discern, and the phones became a huge part of the mystery. You won’t get that till after you see the film.
If you’ve ever been to a college basketball game you have heard the famous bit of music from the granddaddy of all slasher films, Halloween. For a moment I was super irritated by a rising score that sounded like the Halloween score on steroids, but then I noticed it’s super effective. When needed, it perfectly highlights the action with loud, pulsing sound. At other times I noticed a hint of Tubular Bells, also from an early horror classic. There didn’t seem to be anything musically that will become classic, but the score works wonders several times.
This beautifully crafted film is directed by Halina Reijn and written by Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian. Amanda Stenberg plays Sophie and I was shocked to discover afterward that she was Rue in The Hunger Games. She is all grown up now and a great actor. Bee is played by Maria Bakalova (Borat the Subsequent Moviefilm, and The Expanse) and does interesting things with accent. Also starring Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson, Myha’la Herrold and Lee Pace, there is not one weak spot in the acting. This is another A24 Studio film, and though I have been too chicken to see some of their films (Midsommar), seeing their name on a trailer will be a plus from now on.
I cannot stress enough how much I wish you would watch this film, even if you are not a fan of slasher movies (looking at you, CFR). It’s finely crafted and follows the required path to the end, which I guarantee will blow your socks off. All the classic tropes are covered, but gorgeously updated. Oh, how I wish I could go into some of the brilliant things this movie does, but it’s impossible without spoiling.
- Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – Official Website
- Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – IMDB
- Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – Wikipedia
CFR: In Addition: Ok, Mildred convinced me. I went and bought this on Prime. So expect a big Halloween surprise when we do a 2 4 1. I hope I like it. Actually, Mildred had better hope I like it. 🙂