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There Could Be A Lot Riding On A24’s New Secret Horror Acquisition

‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ will be the first movie written by “Cat Person” writer Kristen Roupenian.
By  · Published on March 7th, 2018

‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ will be the first movie written by “Cat Person” writer Kristen Roupenian.

Known for game-changing acquisitions in the world of indie cinema, A24 has recently purchased its first spec script. It was penned by up-and-coming writer Kristen Roupenian, who is currently best known for the short story “Cat Person,” which went viral after being published in the New Yorker at the end of last year.

The Hollywood Reporter announced that the script will be ominously titled Bodies Bodies Bodies and that A24 is planning to fast-track the project to production. However, there really isn’t much of a logline to begin with. According to THR, Bodies Bodies Bodies will display a “heightened sensitivity to character development and social dynamics in a subversive way,” which is a characteristic that the film evidently shares with “Cat Person,” and that’s about it. But despite completely burying all plot details for the time being, this announcement has gotten us interested given A24’s mostly reliable reputation in the indie film scene.

The company was aware of Roupenian’s short story and its impact and apparently tracked her down after finding out that she had also written a script. Since its release, “Cat Person”  — which centers on a 20-year-old woman who gets into a relationship with an older man, primarily through texting — has struck a chord for being critical of gender roles in Millennial dating practices. What sets the story apart from many others in its ballpark is public opinion. There have been varied reactions to the content of “Cat Person,” with the general consensus being that women called the story painfully relatable in many ways and men dismissed it as something particularly “unliterary,” determining to pigeonhole it as more personal essay than fictional narrative exercise.

But the debate that has fostered over “Cat Person” relates also to intersectionality (or the lack thereof in the story) and a discussion of privilege present in its protagonist, Margot. In a time when we’re determined to tip the balance towards women’s equality in both their professional and private lives, Margot’s story rings true to anyone having to consciously appear likeable or polite. However, as a cis, white, straight character, she clearly embodies privilege in her own way. If Roupenian’s script is as similar to “Cat Person,” as the THR article lets on, then there’s a good chance that a culturally relevant horror film could really come out of A24’s acquisition. As this Vox explainer states:

“‘Cat Person’ is not just speaking truth to power; it’s also reinforcing existing power structures.”

So, fair enough, A24, you have our attention. Even with such an amorphous movie description, Bodies Bodies Bodies already fits so well in the company’s roster. A24 started out by bringing stylish Coppola movies like A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III and The Bling Ring to screens. But it really made a name for itself after releasing thought-provoking, horror-tinged movies; “horror-tinged” because their films don’t necessarily only encompass one genre. More often than not they also straddle sci-fi and drama, but these amalgamations of categories lend themselves to more well-rounded storytelling.

Enemy and Under the Skin kept our attention. Ex Machina and The Witch sealed the deal. Even more polarizing fare like Tusk stood out for being so damn weird. These films have proven that A24’s eye for horror films is unique, and that they can be generally incredibly well-received. But they still haven’t cornered the market for consistently great box office returns when it comes to the genre. Some of their more buzzed-about films, such as The Witch, were definite successes when it came time to tally the numbers. But others, like Under the Skin, underperformed.

An immediate horror competitor that comes to mind is Blumhouse, which has consistently delivered movies that have taken in high returns for years with stuff like Paranormal Activity and The Purge. It’s clear that through becoming more actively involved in production, A24 probably needs to solidify its track record to at least balance out the cost of expansion. If the company wants to stick to its usual unconventional horror fare, those films will have to be topical and boost the word-of-mouth that these films need to compete in an overcrowded genre arena.

For the time being, Bodies Bodies Bodies doesn’t have enough going for it other than Roupenian’s name, which could still be enough to maintain interest until director and casting attachments take over the film’s publicity. A24’s brand has always been more experimental and culturally conscious, so there really isn’t a better place for a “Cat Person”-esque movie to flourish. But it’s an experiment that has to pay off.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)