Runtime: 94 minutes
Director: Halina Reijn
Writer: Kristen Roupenian (Story By), Sarah DeLappe (Screenplay By)
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace
By Tom Moore
A24 and director Halina Reijn come together for a strongly satirical and slashy horror comedy with “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies”(2022), which excellently delivers a great mix of biting Gen Z satire and paranoia-fueled mystery.
On the surface, “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” gives off major slasher vibes with its story of a group of partying friends having their night of hardcore drinking and gossip take a deadly turn after one of their friends is found dead. However, it’s more of a burning whodunnit mystery, and that’s far from a bad thing. Just as the film’s central group of friends initially come together, there are two things that stand out. The first is that they totally embody the traits of Gen Z social culture spouting Instagram-inspired lines and collectively having a “social conscious” but callous mentality. The second is that there are some big unresolved issues within this group that make for some simmering tensions.
The arrival of Sophia (Amandla Stenberg) and her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) causes some immediate friction in the group that stems from unresolved issues and Sophia’s past choices. Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) and Sophia are especially at odds because of some secrets within their relationship and Bee not fitting in with the rich culture of their friend group. There’s even some tension in the relationship between David (Pete Davidson) and his girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) over things that transpired before Sophia’s arrival. Not to mention, David is totally jealous of Alice’s (Rachel Sennott) adventurous and ripped older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace) leading to some passive aggressive remarks and tense exchanges between the two. With how much frustration is boiling from the start, it doesn’t take too long for things to boil over.
Once the group begins to play a party deduction game called “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies”, where the group figures out who among them is a killer, things start to get heated in an engaging and surprisingly nostalgic way. There are moments of the group using past behavior to point fingers that feels incredibly reminiscent to playing social deduction games like “Werewolf”, “Mafia”, or even “Among Us”. Everyone’s behavior and small quirks are even seen as a possible tell of lying causing some disputes. Every accusation feels like a jab at a hornet’s nest, and it all leads to the game becoming reality after one of them is found dead.
“Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” takes a slightly meta tone that’s comparable to “Scream” with how it displays a lot of its characters questioning motives and each other as they try to figure things out. Some of the remarks during the game take new form in this new paranoia-filled reality and it makes the film a constantly engaging guessing game. Each new revelation and piece of information can completely change your perspective on someone and adds new layers to each character. Reijn’s direction and the strong performances from the entire cast elevate the mystery to thrilling new heights and especially make the Gen Z satire compelling.
When it comes to how Reijn utilizes the film’s secluded mansion setting that loses power during a powerful hurricane, she makes the film a nightmarish horror landscape. The pitch-black atmosphere makes traversing the mansion incredibly suspenseful and Reijn even delivers some great scares that put you on edge. Even the way the film is mostly lit through cellphone lights and glow sticks keeps things unsettling and this hurricane is nasty as hell making escape not even worth trying. The performances are equally effective in making “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” a nerve-racking mystery as well as a hilarious good time.
Everyone perfectly leans into the satirical comedy of the film and the attitudes and lingo of their characters while making them feel richly intriguing. Although they come off as certain archetypes at first, there are moments that explore those parts of them through satire and it results in some really funny moments. Stenberg definitely delivers one of her strongest and most unique performances to date and this cast of notable up and comers equally showcases strengths that add to the mystery and intrigue of their characters. Also, knowing that Pace played Ronan the Accuser in the MCU, it’s hilarious to see him be a meditative and ripped old guy.
The comedic satire of “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” offers some deep cuts of social media culture that can be hilarious and lead to big eye-opening blowups. The film’s big lean into Gen Z culture and lingo won’t be for everyone, but it does provide some interesting character-driven moments that are immensely satisfying. The film’s takes on toxic friendships, fakeness, selfish actions, and a host of other modern cultural issues add an immense amount of depth to everyone’s frustrations coming out and pointing the finger at each other. It makes the group’s shallow nature more complex and the conversations they have deeper. It also shows some of their short-sightedness that leads to a genuinely surprising ending that’s immensely satisfying and pretty hilarious.
“Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it excellently serves up some piping hot satire that hilariously takes a deadly bite of Gen Z culture and mixes it with a thrilling and engaging mystery led by Reijn’s stellar direction and a great cast that keeps you hooked throughout.