by Rob DiCristino
There’s nothing like the thrill of a murder mystery: On a dark and stormy night, a secluded mansion runs red with the blood of glamorous dilettantes, each of them scheming against the others for grievances that come to light as their numbers dwindle to zero. The killer bides their time among them until a grand reveal brings the labyrinthine plot into focus and everything suddenly makes sense. Then comes the finale, when the killer either executes their ultimate design or is brought to justice by a clever — typically mustachioed — detective. Murder mysteries may remain one of our oldest cinematic traditions, but the great ones strike a delicate balance: Everyone should be a suspect, so the characters must be dynamic but never completely transparent. The killer’s motives may be sympathetic, but their behavior should still be maniacal enough to give us the big-screen villain we find so seductive. Most importantly, we need a final twist that shows off the impossible intellect of our hero, the only one with the brains to put it all together in time to save the day.
Written by Sarah DeLappe from a story by Kristen Roupenian, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a fresh and vibrant approach to the murder mystery that remains true to the traditional genre tropes without getting bogged-down in clue hunting or other whodunnit mechanics. The cast is a veritable who’s who of young Hollywood, led by the stars of The Hate U Give, Borat Subsequent Movie Film, Shiva Baby — and, you know, Pete Davidson. They’re an electric group with a sweaty, manic chemistry that aligns beautifully with the task at hand, and Reijn takes full advantage of the cavernous mansion setting to build suspense without getting too grandiose or melodramatic. The middle acts are lit almost entirely by cell phone flashlights, which add scale and texture to scenes that might otherwise feel underwhelming. Bodies Bodies Bodies is never scary, per se, but Reijn understands how to overwhelm her characters — and audience — with a claustrophobic atmosphere that feels as unwieldy and haphazard as the precocious, self-involved kids stumbling through it at any given moment.
Bodies Bodies Bodies hits theaters on Friday.