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Towards the end of the movie, we see Patrick Bateman in an apartment full of dead bodies. He ends up confessing what he's done to his lawyer. Later he goes back to the apartment, only to find the bodies are all gone. What happened to the bodies?

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I've always assumed that (a) the movie is a satire about wealth and yuppiedom and (b) you'll never know how much is real. I think the last scene is revealing, that perhaps Bateman is not in a healthy state of mind. Great movie by the way - I particularly like the business card scene and the Huey Louis and the News monolog. –  iandotkelly Mar 20 '13 at 17:18
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imdb faq for the movie has a nice explanation. It seems to me that Mary Harron's opinion on this issue doesn't match the accepted answer. –  default locale Apr 9 '13 at 3:34
    
OMG the more i read the more confused i get. I felt all the murders wer real untill the last scene came up when Bate confronts his lawyer asks about his confession and the lawyer replies him saying it isnt true and that he had met Paul over dinner. Still confusing but the comments kinda helped. Errr i hate it when a plot is left for open interpretation. The same is done in the movie Momento. The plot is left for us to judge. –  user5934 Aug 27 '13 at 22:22
    
@Shifaa "The same is done in the movie Momento. The plot is left for us to judge." - Is it? Seems a pretty clear story in the end. –  Napoleon Wilson Feb 3 at 19:39
    
@iandotkelly Someone who kills people isn't in a healthy state of mind if you ask me, and it isn't the first indication that Patrick has serious issues :D –  Luaan Jul 10 at 14:57

8 Answers 8

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Bateman is a psychotic schizophrenic and none of the events depicted actually happened.

Looking at the evidence presented by the movie, we see Batemen commit acts that anyone as high profile as him could not have done without raising at least some questions.

During the film we are presented his crazy subconscious mind that allows him to easily obtain a threesome with two prostitutes while physically beating them, going into what seems to be murderous rampages over business cards as well as seeing an ATM that tells him to insert a kitten instead of a card.

All of these events can be explained as happening inside Bateman's mind rather than in real life. In reality, one could argue the only true act that happened during the film was breaking off his engagement with Evelyn due to his realization of his psychotic visions becoming more and more intense as the film goes on.

In the end, Bateman seemingly kills dozens of police officers, something that would not easily be forgiven, forgotten, nor without being the talk of the town and also among his socialite 'friends'. Even his 'confession' is aluded to by his lawyer as a laugh as they believe Bateman is too reserved to commit such acts.

This further portrays him as actually battling inside his head most of the time, instead of a physical representation of his acts. It can be argued that while his psychotic visions are occurring, he is actually just sitting, silently, slightly catatonic while these play out inside his thoughts.

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ahh, that makes perfect sense. –  DForck42 Mar 20 '13 at 18:08
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...but the director and author have said otherwise: imdb.com/title/tt0144084/faq#.2.1.3 –  Tim Pietzcker Jul 23 '13 at 7:45
    
@TimPietzcker That's a really informative link. But I took from it that making the film more ambiguous was the director's intent but that he failed to do so. So I think it's fair to say that based on the movie as it was made TylerShads is right. To add to his answer there's even a scene where the associate he supposedly kills is revealed to be alive by another character. Thus removing any ambiguity about whether or not he actually killed those people. Or at least that one person. –  jmathew Feb 3 at 16:55
    
And this explains why he was seen as the perfect fit as Batman/Bruce Wayne...? Interesting... –  Eliseo d'Annunzio Feb 4 at 0:08

This link explains it well. Brett Easton Ellis says that some of the murders were in his head, but he did kill. In other novels that Bateman has appeared in people have mysterioulsy vanished.

Did the murders really happen, or did Bateman just imagine it all?

This is the most frequently asked question in relation to the film, and the answer remains ambiguous. As with the questions of why Allen's apartment is empty, how did Carnes see Allen in London, and why people ignore Bateman's outbursts, there are two basic theories:

  1. the murders are very real and Bateman is simply being ignored when he tries to confess

  2. everything happened in his imagination

Much of the discussion regarding the possibility of everything being in his mind focuses on the sequence which begins when the ATM asks him to feed it a stray cat. From this point up to the moment he rings Carnes and leaves his confession on the answering machine, there is a question regarding the reality of the film; is what we are seeing really happening, or is it purely the product of a disturbed mind? An important aspect of this question is Bateman's destruction of the police car, which explodes after he fires a single shot, causing even himself to look incredulously at his gun; many argue that this incident proves that what is happening is not real, and therefore, nothing that has gone before can be verified as being real either. Of this sequence, Mary Harron comments "You should not trust anything that you see. Trying to feed the cat into the ATM is sort of a giveaway. The ATM speaking to Bateman certainly indicates that things have taken a more hallucinatory turn." As such, if this scene is an hallucination, the question must be are all of his murders hallucinatory? Interestingly enough, in the corresponding scene in the novel, the narrative switches from 1st person present to 3rd person present mid-sentence (341) at the beginning of the sequence, and then back to 1st person present (again mid-sentence) at the end (352). This is a highly unusual narrative technique, suggestive of a sizable shift in consciousness and focalization, and an altogether different narrative perspective. This lends credence to the theory that the entire sequence is a hallucination, which in turn lends credence to the suggestion that much of what we see in the film is also an hallucination.

However, if this is the case, and if this sequence does represent pure fantasy, Harron ultimately came to feel that she had gone too far with the hallucinatory approach. In an interview with Charlie Rose, she stated that she felt she had failed with the end of the film because she led audiences to believe the murders were only in his imagination, which was not what she wanted. Instead, she wanted ambiguity;

One thing I think is a failure on my part is people keep coming out of the film thinking that its all a dream, and I never intended that. All I wanted was to be ambiguous in the way that the book was. I think it's a failure of mine in the final scene because I just got the emphasis wrong. I should have left it more open ended. It makes it look like it was all in his head, and as far as I'm concerned, it's not (the complete interview can be found here).

Guinevere Turner agrees with Harron on this point;

It's ambiguous in the novel whether or not it's real, or how much of it is real, and we decided, right off the bat, first conversation about the book, that we hate movies, books, stories that ended and 'it was all a dream' or 'it was all in his head'. Like Boxing Helena, there's just a lot of stuff like that. [...] And so we really set out, and we failed, and we've acknowledged this to each other, we really set out to make it really clear that he was really killing these people, that this was really happening. What's funny is that I've had endless conversations with people who know that I wrote this script saying "So, me and my friends were arguing, cause I know it was all a dream", or "I know it really happened". And I always tell them, in our minds it really happened. What starts to happen as the movie progresses is that what you're seeing is what's going on in his head. So when he shoots a car and it explodes, even he for a second is like "Huh?" because even he is starting to believe that his perception of reality cannot be right. As he goes more crazy, what you actually see becomes more distorted and harder to figure out, but it's meant to be that he is really killing all these people, it's just that he's probably not as nicely dressed, it probably didn't go as smoothly as he is perceiving it to go, the hookers probably weren't as hot etc etc etc It's just Bateman's fantasy world. And I've turned to Mary many times and said "We've failed, we didn't write the script that we intended to write".

In line with what both Harron and Turner feel about the question of whether or not the murders are real, Bret Easton Ellis has pointed out that if none of the murders actually happened, the entire point of the novel would be rendered moot. As with the practical theories regarding the Carnes conversation, the outbursts and the empty apartment, interpreting the murders as real is part of the film's social satire. Ellis has stated that the novel was intended to satirize the shallow, impersonal mindset of yuppie America in the late 1980s, and part of this critique is that even when a cold blooded serial killer confesses, no one cares, no one listens and no one believes. The fact that Bateman is never caught and that no one believes his confession just reinforces the shallowness, self-absorption, and lack of morality that they all have. None of them care that he has just confessed to being a serial killer because it just doesn't matter; they have more important things to worry about. In Bateman's superficial high-class society, the fact that even his open confession to multiple murders is ignored serves to reinforce the idea of a vacuous, self-obsessed, materialistic world where empathy has been replaced by apathy. By extension then, this could be read as a condemnation of corporations in general; they too tend get away with murder (in a figurative sense) and most people just choose to ignore it, just as do Bateman's associates. In this sense then, Bateman serves as a metaphor, as do the very real murders. If the murders were purely in his head, the strong social commentary would be undermined and the film would become a psychological study of a deranged mind rather than a social satire. And whilst that is a perfectly valid interpretation, as Harron indicates above, it is not entirely what the filmmakers were attempting to achieve.

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I had never seen this movie until 2013, catching bits & pieces on HBO, then finally DVR'd the thing and watched it several times. One of the funniest movies ever and Christin Bale is brilliant. The main point: ALL the murders happen in his head.

Here's my interpretation (and, isn't that what it's all about?):

  • Several characters have actually seen Paul Allen in London;
  • The scene(s) when Patrick picks up the hooker in the limo; we never see his limo driver;
  • When he kills the hooker with a chainsaw in the stairwell at Paul Allen's apartment, she's banging on people's doors & Patrick is running thru the building with a live chainsaw
  • no one would have heard this?
  • No one would have discovered her body? The cop would not have investigated a dead hooker cut to pieces in a bloody stairwell at Paul Allen's apt?
  • Wouldn't the cop have spoken to Patrick's limo driver at some point? (hint: there is no limo driver)
  • He shoots & kills a woman at an ATM, several police officers chase him, he shoots & kills them all, their car explodes in a giant fireball; he continues to shoot & kill a door/security man at an apt bldg & a cleaning guy. That's like 6 people in 5 minutes, and no one is ever on his trail. He calls his lawyer and confesses and no one believes him.

At this point, the movie has gotten very surreal, and you start thinking 'ok, this is all happeneing in his head'.

THEN we get to the missing bodies at Paul's apt. The realtor did not 'clean it all up' as some speculate. None of it ever happened.

His lawyer says 'it is simply not possible'. Because there were no murders. His final monologue he says "this confession has meant nothing".

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Wikipedia states that the author deliberately left the reality of the murders open to interpretation. Didn't really double check the source for this but that is what is stated for the book. Which begs the question "Why is he constantly referred to as a serial killer by editors and book reviewers if its possible he didn't kill anyone." Two other points. He is schizophrenic which means he is quite susceptible to graphic and realistic delusions and as a previous person mentioned it could all be metaphor or allegory.

Lastly, at the end of the movie Christian Bale is desperately trying to convince his lawyer that Bateman is capable of and indeed did commit all the atrocities. However, the lawyer thinks that Christian Bales character is someone else and refers to Bateman in the third person as if they are talking about Bateman as if he is not there. This occurs several times in the movie and in the book, to intentionally make the viewer and the reader question the integrity of the narrator and his sanity. Does Bateman have multiple personalities? Does he commit murders as someone else and get confused as to which are fantasies and which are real? Is the cop who interviews him real? Willem Defoe's character has him on the ropes but lets him go. Why? The murdered Paul Allen was seen in London but it was mistaken identity according to Defoe's character. But the lawyer at the end says he had dinner with Paul Allen twice. Could it be that Bateman's character cant handle the reality of his crimes so he creates other fantasies to assuage his conscience that he didnt commit them.

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The author of the book and the director of the film are both clear that the murders are real not imaginary. As for the disappearing bodies...that's never made clear..and I think that adds to the mystery and makes you come to your own conclusions....but like I said, interviews with the director and author make it clear that the murders were real.

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Can you link to any such interview. –  Ankit Sharma Jul 23 '13 at 6:28
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See imdb.com/title/tt0144084/faq#.2.1.3 –  Tim Pietzcker Jul 23 '13 at 7:45

In my opinion, everything happened in his mind all and the acts of murder were fantasized and drawn out on paper.

When he killed the blonde hooker with the chainsaw (it was actually a metaphor of breaking up with his girl friend who is also blonde) the murder took place in his mind and was drawn out on the table at the restaurant during the break up.

I believe all of this was revealed at the end of the movie when his secretary went though his desk and found all the drawings in his daily planner. Every time he murders someone, it gets drawn out on paper. It never really happens, but he thinks it does.

So there aren't any bodies because there were no murders.

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It's been a while since I saw the movie, but my impression was that the events in the move are not meant to be imaginary. I remember Bateman kills someone and then pretends the apartment is his own. That is where he leaves the bodies of his victims.

Bateman at some point spray-paints "Die Yuppie Scum!" on the wall. One of the conceits of the film is that yuppies really are scum. They are worthless and interchangeable, so people can't tell one from the other, and nobody cares or even realizes when one is murdered.

Toward the end of the movie Bateman comes back to the apartment and the bodies are gone. A realtor is there, getting ready to show the apartment. (Apparently Bateman hasn't kept up the rent payments.) It is the realtor who has disposed of the bodies. She hasn't even bothered to call the police because the victims were only worthless yuppies. She knows Bateman murdered them, but doesn't care. She treats him with disdain, though, because he left a mess for her to clean up, and because he is a yuppie too.

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oh, interesting concept, that the realtor was IN on the murders and cleaned up the mess.... hmm.... –  DForck42 Apr 17 '13 at 15:13
    
I think the implication is less about the landlord being "in on the murders" and more about her callous disregard of them, lest her apartment lose value and/or prestige. It's another small, but particularly disturbing, indictment of materialism in a movie that's full of them. –  spencewah Jan 21 at 22:37

I actually have never seen this film, but I've heard a lot about the book as well as the film adaptation and it is my understanding that there is a proposed question as to whether or not any of the events in the story really took place at all. I believe that Bateman is a proposed schizophrenic and being that the story follows according to his perspective, there is the possible mental projection of the crimes. This uncertainty of reality is probably the reason for the missing bodies.

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protected by iandotkelly Aug 27 '13 at 22:56

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