Directed by: Halina Reijn
Premise: A group of young friends gathers at an isolated house for a weekend of partying. When one of them turns up dead the friends suspect that a killer is among them.
What Works: Bodies Bodies Bodies combines a satirical black comedy with an Agatha Christie style murder mystery. Of those two elements, the satire is stronger. This is a sardonic take on contemporary youth culture and Bodies Bodies Bodies has a genuine feel for this cultural moment. It capitalizes on the social justice-oriented self-help vocabulary that is in vogue right now but it sounds organic. When filmmakers try to do this, even satirically, it sometimes comes across like actors dramatizing a Twitter feed. The dialogue exchanges of Bodies Bodies Bodies come across authentic. It’s also very funny. The filmmakers demonstrate an understanding of these young people and their worldview while skewering the ridiculous aspects of it. But the satire does not cancel out the mortal stakes. These young people are in a dark house with a potential murderer and even as Bodies Bodies Bodies has fun with its characters the filmmakers keep touch with the sense of danger. It is unclear who the killer is and the picture keeps us guessing until the very end. Bodies Bodies Bodies concludes on a brilliant reveal that is perfectly in keeping with the pitch of the movie while making us reevaluate everything we just saw. The picture also has impressive technical and directorial merit. The story plays out in a large home and despite taking place in the dark the spatial relationships are clear. Much of the film takes place in the dark but the subjects are lit properly in a way that keeps the action intelligible while surrounding these people with foreboding darkness.
What Doesn’t: Bodies Bodies Bodies positions itself to be what Heathers was for the 1980s and what Scream was for the 1990s. The film mostly accomplishes its satirical goals but Heathers and Scream had a little more depth in both their view of youth culture and their regard for the characters. Bodies Bodies Bodies leans into the satire and as a result the characters are held at a distance. There is a tension in the film between holding these people to ridicule, as satire inherently does, and getting us to care about their survival. The point of the film is the toxicity of their relationships but there’s not much more to it than that. By the end of the picture, neither these victims nor the audience learn anything about these people that wasn’t already evident within the first twenty minutes.
Bottom Line: Bodies Bodies Bodies is a sardonic Generation Z murder mystery. It effectively sends up the values and eccentricities of contemporary youth culture while telling a compelling mystery. It’s not a deep film but it is well made and is both funny and suspenseful.
Episode: #915 (August 28, 2022)