“Realistic Villains”

Examining Social Commentary in Crime Films through Knives Out and Bodies Bodies Bodies


  • Caitlin Davis BSU DLR




film, social commentary, crime fiction


Crime films–one of the most beloved forms of crime fiction—have a close relationship with society due to their themes and subject matter. Because of this relationship, crime films are able to use their genre-specific elements to include social commentary within their storylines. Using their victims, suspects, and resolutions of the crimes, modern crime fiction pieces such as Rian Johnson’s 2019 film Knives Out and Halina Reijn’s 2022 film Bodies Bodies Bodies both implement larger conversations within their stories. In Knives Out, the audience follows the mystery behind the sudden death of the renowned author, Harlan Thrombey—the suspects being his family and staff. Within the film’s mystery, Johnson uses elements of the story to recognize and critique those in power who benefit from privilege. Bodies Bodies Bodies focuses on couple Bee and Sophie as they join Sophie’s upper-class influencer friends for a weekend of partying, but mystery ensues when one of the friends is found dead, leaving only those within the house as suspects. Throughout the film, Reijn exemplifies the harmful way younger generations are utilizing technology while also critiquing problematic behaviors within influencer culture. This essay will use these pieces of modern crime fiction to explore how fictional crime narratives can use their stories to include social commentary.


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How to Cite

Davis, C. (2023). “Realistic Villains”: Examining Social Commentary in Crime Films through Knives Out and Bodies Bodies Bodies. Digital Literature Review, 10(1), 96–106. https://doi.org/10.33043/DLR.10.1.96-106