Director: Halina Reijn (USA). Year of release: 2022
A couple is having a long snog. One is white, the other black. Both are women. Apparently this opening scene has raised a lot of ire from incels on the Internet who have demanded something which is “more like real life” (ie more like a life which never comes near to a snog from anyone, let along a lesbian with armpit hair). For this reason, and this reason alone, the scene Is justified. But it doesn’t take long for a scene of just snogging to get boring, and this scene takes very long.
Sophie and Bee are travelling in Sophie’s expensive car to a party at the house of David, Sophie’s kindergarten boyfriend “before I become a raging dyke.” He’s celebrating, or something, an expected hurricane. As they arrive, all the other guests are in David’s outdoor pool, seeing who can hold their breath for the longest. Having seen the title, I assumed that people were going to die in the film. From the off, I was hoping that it will be most of the characters and as soon as possible.
David and his friends are all rich, self-regarding poshoes as are most of their partners. The only other man present is Greg, who is in his 40s and apparently fought in Afghanistan. Greg fetches a sword which was hanging up on the wall and uses it to chop the cork off an expensive champagne bottle. You’d think he’s be a bit cool, but he’s equal parts sinister and slightly boring. A third man, Max, has already left after declaring his love to one of the women when he was off his face.
The young women, who we soon see making a Tiktok video of themselves twerking, are pretty indistinguishable. This is not to say that we can’t tell one from the other – there’s the black one, the other black one with blonde braids, the blonde one with an Eastern European accent, the one who wears a dozen glow collars, and the other one. But none of them is given any personality, any special characteristics, anything interesting to say. Any line of dialogue could be from any of them.
Back to the plot, such as it is. The kids decide to play Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – which is essentially Murder in the Dark for people with copyright problems. They deal out cards and the one who gets the card with the cross on is the murderer. They then turn the lights out, and the murderer taps someone on the back. This person is dead, and must slump to the ground. When someone finds the corpse, they shout “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” and everyone has to guess who the murderer is.
Does this sound exciting to you? If so, I guess you’re about 12 years old. It’s no surprize that all the kids are coked off their face. So when Life imitates Art (or, seeing as it’s in the film script, Art imitates Art), and one person after the next really is killed, we’re forced to endure rounds of recriminations and boring people falling out with each other, and blaming each other for each murder. But seeing as they’re all as dull as each other, you don’t really care whodunnit.
This being a genre film which rarely does anything that you can’t see coming, the characters have to be cut off from the outside world. The storm cuts out all the electricity and phone coverage. Although this is a group in which the poorest of them is the daughter of University lecturers, only one of them has a car, and this stops working when her partner leaves the lights on. Yes they need all this for the plot to work, but the set up just feels lazy and performed with no imagination.
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with a film in which none of the characters is likeable. But Bodies Bodies Bodies expects us to give a fuck about what happens to these narcissistic vacuous people with much more money than wit or intelligence. Spending so much time in their presence is just tiresome. On top of that, the “satire” in the film is aimed less against the undeserving rich than at Generation Z with their mobile phones and podcasts and talk about wokeness, ableism, and allies.
I’m sure that the film’s writers and director are both significantly younger than me, and all are women (which is something to celebrate). But they come across as old men shouting at the clouds, people who think that the next generation is so much more vacuous, more difficult to understand than anyone who came before. Let me tell you a secret. There are interesting and dull people in all generations, but in pretty much every one it’s the entitled rich who are the worst of the lot.
Ironically, the moment when the film comes closest to commenting on modern society is when it fails most clearly. One of the women accuses one of the blokes of gaslighting her. He says that that’s just a word she found on Twitter. Although she is the sort of airhead who may have found the word on Twitter, he actually is gaslighting her. But rather than satirising privileged men patronising women, this is portrayed as a petty concern of people who have few real problems.
There is one moment of inspiration, and this is when we find out who committed the first of many killings. But by this time, the film is already wrapping up and we’ve stopped really caring. We have been spending too much time in the company of dreary, self-regarding people, and have already been looking for our watches for quite some time. It would have been wiser to put the one halfway good scene earlier in the film, when we actually gave a shit.