Back last Fall, Boba Phil reviewed Bodies, Bodies, Bodies and he didn’t just not like it. He downright hated it. He was scathing. Here at Last Movie Outpost we wholeheartedly support kicking something while it is down, otherwise how would it learn its lesson? So with that in mind, Wrenage takes a break from Retro Reviews of some schlock classics to take a run at this himself. Did he like it any better? Well, what do you think?
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies
I’ve been a sucker for Whodunits ever since I saw Peter Ustinov in Death On The Nile. Agatha Christie was a giant in the mystery-fiction field. Sadly, she was a woman, so she never got the credit she deserved. Down with the patriarchy!
Hopefully, in this enlightened age, we can rescue Christie’s legacy. I’m starting The Agatha Christie Recognition Society. Donate what you can, so we can right this wrong. I promise I won’t use the money to buy a mansion. It will all go to the cause.
The latest film to crib from Christie’s body of work is Bodies, Bodies, Bodies. It’s a modern Whodunit with a hip, young cast, a hip, young sheen and 50 percent more lesbians. Labeled a “horror-comedy”, the film is about rich twentysomethings who party at a mansion. They play a murder-mystery game that stops being fun when the murders become real.
This should be a slam-dunk concept. Game Night (2018) mined similar territory to reasonable effect. Yet, surprise, surprise, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies sucks. Nevertheless, it offers a few opportunities for interesting conversation. Full spoilers will happen.
Bodies In Bodies, Bodies, Bodies
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies stars World’s Greatest Lothario, Pete “All Your Women Are Belong To Me” Davidson. He-of-the-birthmark-eyes hosts the party. I’ve seen Davidson crack solid jokes, but he looks uncomfortable here. His acting reminded me of Jeff Goldblum with all talent removed. Possibly it was lost after being improperly reconstituted by a teleporter.
Black, intersectional, lesbian, feminist Amandla Stenberg (Colombiana and The Hunger Games) is next on the cast list. Aside from being a walking woke bingo card, her character is a sloppy kisser. The movie opens with her tongue-wrestling her latest conquest to the point where the smell of dried-saliva-on-face wafts from the TV screen.
Maria Bakalova (Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm and voice of Cosmo The Spacedog in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy 3) is Stenberg’s conquest. She spends most of the movie being mousy. She doesn’t fit in with the rich kids. She brings zucchini bread to a cocaine party.
Rachel Sennott rose to fame with her online comedy series Ayo and Rachel Are Single. She acquits herself about as well as can be expected for a YouTube star.
Chase Sui Wonders showed up in Daniel Isn’t Real. She barely shows up on Bodies, Bodies, Bodies. A blow-up doll could have performed her role.
Lee Pace was in some Hobbit movies and some Marvel movies. He plays Shirtless Guy in Bodies, Bodies, Bodies. At one point, he expands on this character by wearing a light-therapy mask. Eat your heart out, Laurence Olivier.
Myha’la Herrold hails from the British television industry, even though she is an American. Her character in Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is angry and says the F word a lot. They all say the F word a lot. It is their way of showing how stressed they are instead of, you know…acting.
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is directed by Halina Reijn. Reijn is a Dutch actress, writer and director (man, more Dutch stuff at LMO. Dick Maas has infiltrated the DNA of this place). Reijn’s Wikipedia page is extensive enough that it takes about ten seconds of continuous scrolling to get through it. I figured that made her legit, but Bodies, Bodies, Bodies begs to differ.
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is based on a story by Kristen Roupenian. Roupenian is best known for a short story titled Cat Person, which was published in the New Yorker and became something of a sensation. It was about a relationship that blossomed through texting and ended badly because men suck. The story generated controversy because Roupenian based it on real people, who felt that was unethical and wrote an essay in Slate that sent Twitter into an uproar.
Golly, a writer using real life and real people for inspiration? Madness! Next thing you’ll tell me is that Aslan in Chronicles of Narnia is based on Jesus. If one was of a cynical bent, they might think said essay was an exercise in outrage marketing to further boost sales.
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies Of Work
I had high hopes for Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, but those hopes were dashed within the first 15 minutes. Marketing as a “horror-comedy,” the movie needed to hit the ground running, but it started out as tedious as a Right-To-Know meeting. The first half hour of the movie is spent with nearly zero plot development. We simply watch douchebags interact.
Characters don’t have to be likeable. A movie can be populated entirely by douchebags and work (see Wallstreet, The Wolf Of), but said douchebags need to be interesting.
Eventually, Pete Davidson stumbles into frame with a slit throat and dies.
First thing a Whodunit needs is clues. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies contains no real clues as to who could have killed Davidson, beyond the fact that everyone is a douchebag.
Second thing a Whodunit needs is a detective. It doesn’t have to be a literal detective (see MacReady, Thing, The), but you need someone to take charge and figure out who the clues point toward. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies has no main character in focus. Sometimes it is Stenberg; sometimes it is Bakalova; sometimes it is Herrold, but none of them do any figuring out. They simply yell at each other.
Third thing a Whodunit needs is red herrings. Some folks have to appear clearly guilty. Other folks need to appear possibly guilty. This engages the viewer as they try to figure out the mystery for themselves. Ideally, the solution is logical and unexpected. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies replaces red herrings with arguing, and all arguing is done at level eleven. It’s exhausting to watch.
Good directors sometimes map out characters’ emotional levels through a film, so actors know how much to give in each scene. For example, the director might say, “You are at an emotional level of four in this scene. Action!” It appears that Reijn did not do this. She does not seem in control of the actors at all. They run roughshod over each scene with annoying caterwauling.
Fourth thing a Whodunit needs is motives. None of the characters in Bodies, Bodies, Bodies have motives beyond being selfish individuals who don’t actually like each other. They are all vapid millennials who mistake partying with someone for a genuine relationship.
Each character also bought into victimhood lock, stock and barrel. The standard Whodunit denouement is replaced with an airing of grievances that, I kid you not, tries to use every woke term that exists, up to and including “ableist“.
Within this framework, everyone turns on each other and bodies pile up. This then brings us to the only interesting element of the film – the end.
Final Bodies, Bodies, Bodies Count
The end of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies short-circuits all of the above criticism with a twist that is actually quite clever. Mind you, it does not rescue the movie. The movie still sucks. But, credit where credit is due, I appreciate Roupenian’s thought process here.
The reason Bodies, Bodies, Bodies does not work as a Whodunit… is because there is no murder! All of the characters assumed the murder, and their own paranoia and failures to be decent human beings caused them to turn on each other. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is not a mystery film. It’s a commentary on human shortcomings. That’s why there were no clues, no motives, no red herrings, just a whole bunch of douchebaggery.
At the start of the movie, Shirtless Guy opens a champagne bottle with a sword. This irks Davidson because Shirtless Guy is so much cooler than him. Later on, when he is alone, Davidson tries the bottle-opening trick himself and commits the cardinal sin of whittling — he cuts toward himself, rather than away from himself. The sword slips, Davidson cuts his own throat and goes stumbling for help. Once discovered, everyone thinks he is a victim instead of just an idiot.
Great idea but ultimately all involved with the film did not have the chops to leverage it into a watchable storyline. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is a failure, folks.
But you know what doesn’t have to be a failure? The Agatha Christie Recognition Society! Send your donation in today, and we will render the patriarchy one more devastating blow!
If you can’t donate to The Agathe Christie Recognition Society, yet enjoy reading my reviews, buy one of my books instead. The Wrenage Recognition Society also exists. I recommend DogSS of War — the finest Nazi werewolf book ever written.
You can buy a copy of this fine novel by clicking here.