Rated R for a lot of language, violence, blood, alcohol abuse, and drug use. It's listed as a horror-comedy (a point I'll talk about later), but I would sooner classify it as a murder mystery in a bottle with very funny parts. Yeah, there's blood and gore and people keep dying. But almost every death happens off-screen and there isn't a point to gore the movie out. Still, a well-deserved R.
DIRECTOR: Halina Reijn
I have so many thoughts that it actually hurts to start. (Okay, it literally doesn't hurt. You know what I mean.) I really wanted my wife to watch Bodies Bodies Bodies with me. I had heard so much good stuff about this movie and it was trending in the right circles. Then I got a copy at the library and that absolutely sealed the deal for me. I got to watch it for free just as it came out on DVD? Yes and yes! Somehow, the movie was exactly what I thought it would be and nothing like it whatsoever.
I'm almost 40. My thirties were mostly a nostalgic look at my childhood and teen years. There were some really notable movies about generations after me, like Superbad, Booksmart, and mid90s. There has been a need to really talk about this current slate of Zoomers because, like early versus late millennials, there's a fundamental difference. I haven't really watched a lot of movies that look like Bodies Bodies Bodies, but I know that they exist. (I'm very sleepy and can't think of the movie with James Franco, but I know that it exists.) But Bodies Bodies Bodies might be the best entry into this very specific subgenre: the late-Zoomer satire.
I want to say, like, twenty things right now, so bear with me if ideas get jumbled up. I really want to point out that there's a weird marketing element to this movie, especially in terms of quotes pulled from reviews. Almost every tag on the front reminds you that this is a horror-comedy. That's fine. I get why they are doing it. It honestly helps the movie a bit if you reshift your focus onto the fact that it is a comedy. (Since I'm here, I'm going to talk about horror-comedy, but I don't want to lose my train of thought, which you can tell is all over the place today. For a lot of the movie, I had a hard time telling that it was a comedy. I watched the first hour unbroken and then finished it yesterday with about half-an-hour left. The first hour, I judged it harshly. I considered it "fun", not "funny." 100%, the movie is fun. It's a little bit of a sendup of the current generation. They say slightly ironic things. But then again, most movies poke fun at cultural norms. I didn't really get the comedy element of it so much as the tonal vibe of the whole thing. During my self-regulated intermission from the film, I talked about the movie to both a friend who had watched it and the target audience for this movie, one of my students. Part of me worried that I was just not getting the humor. After all, I spent a lot of the movie smiling, but not guffawing. (The tags on the box needed to slow down with those comments.) I was informed that it wasn't necessarily my age, but the movie itself. I shouldn't be so pressured by the box to laugh.
And then I watched the last half-hour. That's when I started laughing. Honestly, within the first minute or two of watching the last half-hour, I found myself continually laughing. Not gut-busting or anything, but it was genuinely funny. This isn't even taking into account the end, which I actively applauded. I'm talking just about the dialogue. Now, one of two things happened and both are fighting for dominance. One) The film legitimately got funny at that point. All the cards were out there, so characters were allowed to say things that probably couldn't have been said in the first hour. OR Two) I had changed my expectations. By being given permission to just enjoy without the pressure of belly-laughing, something in my brain flipped that allowed me to enjoy the comedy elements far more than I had in the first hour. I don't know. Why am I writing all of this? Maybe this is helping someone watch or rewatch the movie with a different context. I tell you right now, you are allowed to just enjoy it without depending on the laughs. Maybe if you watch it with that attitude, the entire movie might be hilarious.
But that horror-comedy tag does actually do a lot of heavy lifting and I can kind of see why the marketing guys kept throwing those tags on the box: the end. Listen, this is a very spoiler-heavy blog. I talk about all kinds of stuff here and sometimes I don't like keeping it vague. This blog has been incredibly vague and, if I cared more, I would purge this whole entry. But I'm going to talk about the make-it-or-break-it ending. The film has such a polarizing ending that if the movie didn't have the phrase "horror-comedy" written all over it, I could see some people getting genuinely mad. Because the theme of the film surrounds a self-involved generation (it's the film's belief, not mine!) unable to grasp that something doesn't involve them that hey can't possibly see the evil being something mundane, they kill each other, we never really are able to grasp that this is a "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" situation. I think that's why the second half may be funnier than the first half, because it is setting me up for an absolute cracker of an ending. David died on accident doing something incredibly dumb. Everyone in the house killed each other because they all believed that they were special. No one in the house was special. They were all terrible people willing to do awful things to one another because there was no real friendship.
God, the gun? The gun sequence. When Bee attacks and kills Greg, it almost seems sympathetic. Because we know formula and how films work, there's no scenario that Greg was the cause of the misery surrounding them. But still, there's something sympathetic about Bee's attack of Greg. He was being a bit too much of a wild card. He did have a weapon. But the movie builds the premise up to a point where Jordan is able to shoot Alice and still try to justify her actions. While a lot of that last act is positively brilliant, there's a line that sums up the whole movie for me. Jordan shoots Alice in the knee. Alice says something along the lines of, "You shot me." Jordan then denies it? It's this moment where objective truth directly confronts what is possible and it still loses. Everyone in this story, including Bee, think that they are the moral center of the universe. That bickering about ableism is a wonderful flavor bringing out the subtlety of tone. We all think we're good and it doesn't matter how much evidence to the contrary we are shown, our brain doesn't allow us to view ourselves as villains in the moment. Sure, if Jordan survived, maybe she could have had introspective moments that contextualized what had happened. But in that moment, when Jordan denied shooting Annie, I nearly applauded. It was so good.
Yeah, I'm not Gen Z. I work with Gen Z every day. To a certain extent, it feels accusatory of Gen Z. But I don't think it is meant to say that this generation is worse than any other. I think that it is a very Gen Z way of saying that teenagers are awful people and this is how this generation vocalizes that terribleness. Bodies Bodies Bodies did for Gen Z what Scream did for my generation. My student viewed this as both a criticism and a celebration of Zoomer culture and I can't disagree. Yeah, they suck, but doesn't everybody suck? It's not that Zoomers suck. It's just that most people aren't exceptional and would make stupid mistakes because everyone is self-involved.
Except me. Continue reading my blog.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.