Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)

Published on 26 August 2023 at 23:34

My two roommates and I had talked for some time about wanting a night to bond. We were going to dress up and eat at Hooter's, come back and get comfy, and then watch a movie together. One of my roommates suggested Bodies Bodies Bodies and my other roommate crowed with glee. I made the mistake of commenting that I'd never heard of it, much less seen it. Soon as I know it, we got back from eating our Hooters wings and pulled up the quirky and dark comedy horror flick. As a proclaimed horror fanatic. I find myself questioning my perception of slasher films, my least favorite horror broad genre, as this one can be considered one of my favorite A24 films I've seen thus far.

For starters, the casting choices intrigued me. Pete Davidson, specifically. (I laughed when he came on screen.) I've never been able to find that man serious, and with good reason. I was well-accustomed to his roles on SNL before his relationship with Ariana Grande thrust him into the limelight, his deadpan and often self-deprecating sense of humor garnering a large fanbase that has brought him far in his career as a comedian. When I saw him on screen for what I knew to be a campy slasher flick, I was taken aback, although pleasantly surprised as the movie progressed. His character had the same type of delivery and mannerisms as any Pete Davidson character, but as the sacrificial lamb in the start of the movie, his toxicity and perturbing arguments with the friend group before his demise set the tone.

At its core, I genuinely loved the movie, in its entirety. The main horror of the film itself lies in the dishonesty and ingenuity of the friend group. The dialogue, character relationship tensions, and plot was realistic enough that I found the movie to be quite frightening beyond its entertainment and gore value. I don't normally find the same appeal in slashers the way I do in other horror works, such as psychological thrillers, some splatterpunk, or other gore-featuring films. Movies like Saw are cult classics that I respect and revere for their influence in pop culture and the film industry, but I will not go out of my way to watch unless lightheartedly with friends, or if I need something in the background while I fold laundry. There's a bad guy. He has a knife. The main characters mostly make stupid decisions, and most die. One of them is (arguably) less dumb and survives, usually a pretty brunette dubbed "The Final Girl." It's predictable, beaten down like an old horse, and few surpass the classics that make them worthy of watch. 

I've always been a loud and proud believer of strong characters, as the other elements in any given story can be lacking or forgotten in entirety, yet memorable with the right lead. An important feature of horror isn't just the effects, or the plot, or the music score and lighting choices. It's all cohesive, but the characters make or break. Horror might be my favorite genre for the very reason that it's hard to do it right. You need all elements for the right effect. And Bodies Bodies Bodies managed to have the lovable cliché of a slasher plotline while developing stronger characters, managing to keep me on the edge of my seat. Bodies Bodies Bodies might've had its gore, its minor (yet not cheap) jumpscares, and Grade A slasher tropes. But the horror lied in the characters, in the anarchy and dissolution of the relationships we were presented as each reacted to tragedy in differing ways.

The two major facets of the film that made it what it was were the relationship of the two main characters, Sophie and Bee, and the ending, which will now both be discussed. 

The entire premise is a that a girl brings her new girlfriend to hang out with her somewhat estranged friend group, and they play a party game called "Bodies Bodies Bodies" (similar in style to "Among Us") which goes horribly awry. Every single character is incredibly flawed, but not in such a way that they are heavily dislikable. Each character is respectively messy, and while we're given just enough of their backstories to appreciate that they all are not horrible people, the audience is quickly under the impression that they are objectively bad friends. As characters slowly start dropping, I found myself keeping toll of every which subtle comment or scene choice, desperate to decide which character was responsible for the wreckage. I have had moments watching well-crafted movies where I felt hopeless and misguided by what I was seeing, but I'm not used to constantly jumping ship on who I believed to be the villain. Ultimately, I'd decided towards the last twenty minutes that I believed Sophie, one of the main characters (and pictured left up above) to be the killer.

She and her girlfriend were such an accurately-morphed sapphic relationship. The short timeline of their relationship before them getting serious, the ways in which they talked about each other, the tensions as they hung out with a largely female-based friend group... I found myself rooting for both of them, both as a couple and as individuals. I was not rooting for them because they were the main characters, but because I simply had seen enough of them to know that I felt confident they had the wit and drive to survive, and either would be deserving of the "Final Girl" title. When I felt that we were likely going to find that Sophie was guilty, I was crushed, but a little excited to see it unfold. To see the disintegration of her character, done so in an artful, purposeful way, was tempting.

Bee was also an amazing character (pictured right up above). I found her to be a nicely-executed example of a socially-awkward person thrust in such an uncomfortable, perilous situation, as the main difference between herself and the others was that she'd previously know. none of them besides Sophie. She acted almost like a caged animal in an intelligent, reserved way; which is a very contradictory description, but makes sense if you see the movie. I'd predicted that Sophie, given that she was suddenly revealed as relapsing into her long battle with drug abuse, had mistakenly warped the events of the night in her head, and that she was responsible for the violence. Or maybe, she was completely aware, and in classic slasher fashion, gathered all her friends after ghosting them for some time to get revenge and kill them off. I felt confident that Bee would survive, as she was depicted as having concrete survival instincts, and proved she was capable of going as far as she deemed necessary (RIP Greg).

Obviously, I was wrong. And boy, I'm glad I was wrong. The ending (which I won't write out, in hopes that I've said just enough to pique interest in anyone who hasn't seen it) seems almost too obvious, yet it clearly wasn't obvious enough. And I was left sitting back stupefied on my couch, staring after the screen as the credits rolled with my mind running a mile a minute: what happened to the characters five minutes after the last scene had finished? Ten? Was their fragile relationship doomed after their clear display of lack of trust in one another, or would they be drawn closer together from tragedy?

My trust in my own movie dissection: was completely shattered. My misconceptions about slashers and their abilities to disturb me: were utterly decimated. 

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