What is A24’s ‘secret slasher film’ Bodies, Bodies, Bodies actually about?

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Bodies, Bodies, Bodies and Mother Land are two upcoming films with something in common – more details here.

Cabin-in-the-woods movies seem to be back in vogue with two new, high-profile, big budget examples headed towards production, including A24’s so-called ‘secret slasher film’ Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.

As the trades rush to report that Borat breakout Maria Bakalova and The Hate U Give's fantastic Amandla Stenberg are joining the cast of Bodies…, they’re also joining in with some kind of imagined omerta. “Plot details are being kept under wraps,” they say, or “Plot details are not yet available.”

Well, we’re not going to spoil anything for you but we thought you might at least like some clue as to what the movie is actually all about.

In short, Bodies… is an extremely contained slasher film, set in and around a cabin. The title comes from a game, described on WikiHow as Body Body, that the characters play. It’s a kind of ‘social deduction’ game like Mafia, which involves some players taking on the role of murderers, trying to ‘kill’ others in the dark. The turning on and off of lights is key to the game – and so it will be to the film.

Is there more to the film than this? Well, the plan is for something extremely contained, as we said. Really, this is a big relationship drama, with deeply-written characters that, hopefully, will come to life with some complexity on screen. Will the audience care deeply about the deaths because they’ve heard the characters bicker and banter and air their relationship grievances beforehand?

If Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is going to succeed, it would be because the audience grow to like the characters and care about the drama enough that when the killing goes from being a game to actual, brutal murder, they’re deeply invested. That’s the first trick that this film will need to pull off.

And secondly, the audience will need to be pleased by the reveal of who is doing the killing, and why. Here’s hoping director Halina Reijn can shepherd things to a satisfying conclusion.

Meanwhile, the trade papers have also reported that the fantastic Mark Romanek has signed on to direct a film from the brilliantly ambitious screenplay Mother Land by Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby. According to Deadline, this film “deals with a family that has been haunted by an evil spirit for years. Their safety and their surroundings come into question when one of the children questions if the evil is real.”

Like Bodies…, Mother Land has a lot of cabin-in-the-woods tropes, though from a very different starting point and to startlingly different effect. It’s set around a small wooden farmhouse where the mother of the title raises her teen twins, Nolan and Samuel. Again, we’re reluctant to give too much away but it’s revealed early on that mother has told the boys that if they’re to venture away from the house they need to be tied securely to it with rope, and to venture no further than that rope allows.

There are echoes of The Mist, The Village and A Quiet Place in the set-up of Mother Land but it goes to its own places and has its own ideas. This film could be very compelling and should be nicely multi-layered, especially with Romanek in charge.

Perhaps it’s the pandemic, or maybe the runaway success of A Quiet Place was crucially important too, but smaller, contained horror movies are back on the menu – and from what we know, there’s at least one with brilliant potential coming our way.


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