About fifteen minutes into the new thriller, BODIES BODIES BODIES, I heard myself ask aloud, “Wait… is this a cozy mystery?”
The answer is yes. Granted, the film is much gorier than most cozies, but the other tropes are all present, if repurposed for the next generation. After all, the cozy mystery has been a beloved subgenre for decades… what’s not to love? Here are a few ways that BODIES BODIES BODIES falls into the cozy mystery category, and if you’re a cozy mystery aficionado or fanatic, these are reasons for you to see this film:
A village setting
“Village” is short-hand for a contained setting, one that can’t easily be entered or exited, so the reader (or viewer) has a controlled scene without a ton of variables.
In the film, our “village setting” is David (Pete Davidson)’s family mansion. His closest friends and their plus ones (and one friend who’s not-so-close anymore) all gather for a Hurricane Party. Basically, they’ll hunker down with glowsticks and recreational substances for the duration of a tropical storm, which, all things considered, is a pretty responsible way to party during a disaster, if that’s your thing. It also means that all the victims, all the suspects, and the murderer(s) themselves are already here. See? Cozy.
Usually, cozy mysteries feature a little old lady librarian to solve the case, or someone equally as unassuming or unqualified regarding crime. In this case, it’s a bunch of drunk and high twentysomethings who’re bad-tripping at the moment the electricity fails because of the storm. Definitely amateurs. Plus, the combination of the storm, the dark, and an actual murder, foments a real paranoia among the friends and newcomers, which adds to the cozy mystery mystique.
Many plot twists
It might go without saying, but amateur sleuths don’t have professional training, and their assumptions and intuitions and paranoias often lead to the plot twists… or subsequent crimes. In the case of BODIES BODIES BODIES, the plot goes a little meta, which is a fun twist in itself.
The partygoers are all playing a game like “mafia” when there is an actual murder, so we even begin with a twist. Not to mention, every time there’s a death, we get new clues, new theories, new suspects, and of course, new twists.
The answer was right in front of you all along.
I don’t want to give too much away about the ending, so I’ll just say that these four components a cozy mystery maketh. There’s no great leap of logic at the plot’s conclusion, and there’s no cliffhanger. There’s a real ending that makes complete sense… and you’ll never see it coming, even though maybe you should have.
Basically, if you love a cozy mystery but you want a different kind of “village setting,” you might be the perfect audience for BODIES BODIES BODIES. Similarly, if you’ve seen and loved the fun of the film, you’ll probably like these cozy mysteries:
True to the setting of a cozy mystery, an old woman on the volcanic islands of the Mediterranean discovers the bodies of three Black men washed onshore. It seems as though they’ve drowned attempting to cross the sea, and the island community decides that the tragedy must be covered up so that their tourism industry doesn’t suffer. Needless to say, this fable’s crimes are anything but straightforward.
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If you enjoy a good meta-narrative, this cozy mystery is right up your alley: author Hannah corresponds from Australia to the U.S. with her acquaintance for feedback on chapters of her mystery novel. Through the letters, she realizes that Leo might be a criminal himself, and she uses her manuscript to catch a real criminal.
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If you liked the Hurricane Party setting of BODIES BODIES BODIES, then try on another blueblood’s party for himself: in The Party, Ben’s turning 40 in a huge estate. His best friend Martin is invited to the soiree, but Martin and his wife feel slighted when they realize, too late, that they’re not invited to stay in the mansion. They instead book a small motel nearby, and Martin realizes slowly that Ben’s attention has been pulled off their friendship and onto other things like his family and his marriage. It’s an interesting dynamic between two grown men, one of whom glommed onto the other in their formative years and still refuses to let go.
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In another Hurricane-Party type setting, a glamorous teenager goes missing while her prep school is trapped in by a snowstorm. Everyone says she ran away with her philosophy teacher, and was never seen again. But twenty-five years later, three best friends return to the same school for graduation where they buried a murdered body under a wall that will soon be demolished. It’s suspense over the course of decades!
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Mary Kay McBrayer is the author of America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster. You can find her short works at Oxford American, Narratively, Mental Floss, and FANGORIA, among other publications. She co-hosts Everything Trying to Kill You, the comedy podcast that analyzes your favorite horror movies from the perspectives of women of color. Follow Mary Kay McBrayer on Instagram and Twitter, or check out her author site here.