Here’s a fun equation: A24 + modern horror whodunnit + meta dark humor = ? The answer is a frolicking mini-masterpiece entitled Bodies Bodies Bodies, after the titular sinister game our players participate in. Written by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Halina Reijn, the film has a fiercely feminine touch that redefines the tired whodunnit formula. An impressive body count, a thrilling ensemble cast, and the backdrop of an explosive hurricane storm keep Bodies Bodies Bodies a gag-worthy affair from start to finish.
David (Pete Davidson, Set It Up, The King of Staten Island) is having an intimate hurricane party at his family’s massive mansion, and his whole friend group will be in attendance. Estranged, newly-sober Sophie (Amandla Stenberg, The Hate U Give, The Hunger Games) brings along her foreign girlfriend of three months, Bee (Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, The Bubble), promising a great time. However, no one else seems happy to see Sophie, let alone some random new chick. Podcaster Alice (Rachel Sennott, Shiva Baby) is accompanied by her much older, sexy alleged Afghanistan vet boyfriend, Greg (Lee Pace, Pushing Diasies, Guardians of the Galaxy).
Greg’s presence alone has David feeling extremely insecure, insistent that he is hotter than Greg and that David gives off an “I fuck” vibe. David’s girlfriend, Emma (Chase Sui Wonders, Generation, Daniel Isn’t Real), gossips maybe a little too much about their sex life (or lack thereof), whilst the final key player, Jordan (Myha’la Herrold, Plan B, HBO’s Industry), just comes across as cold and spiteful towards Sophie. When Sophie and Bee first arrive, everyone else is swimming in David’s pool, shaken by Sophie’s sudden appearance punctuated by her not giving them a head’s up in their group chat.
Well before anything sinister begins to occur, there is clearly a lot of baggage carried by each character. Taking shots accompanied by playful slaps to the next person devolves into real bitch slaps with some weight, then eventually an actual fist punch. “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” a game in which the player who draws the “X” must secretly be the killer, then dispatch the victims one by one in the dark, seems ideally suited to the extravagance of David’s home. Shortly after the game is suggested, the action quickly shifts to an intense thrill-ride once the power goes out for real. It doesn’t take long for the first victim to wind up dead, calling into question the reliability and possible suspect status of every single person. Major questions permeate throughout as our characters race to solve the largest looming mystery: who is the killer?
A synthy, 80s-inspired atmospheric score from Disasterpiece (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Under the Silver Lake) is the perfect accompaniment to the eerie intensity of the raging storm. I was really impressed with director Halina Reijn’s filmmaking style; a large swath of scenes are darkly lit, yet the movie itself never feels dark or as if one cannot see the action. Lit by glowsticks and cell phone flashlights, I felt myself on the edge of my seat despite the overtly humorous tone. David’s sprawling mansion is a great single-setting for Bodies Bodies Bodies. The zippy dialogue and jet-black humor pair well with an edgy soundtrack, and the unfolding storyline.
Without a doubt, Bodies Bodies Bodies concludes in a way that will conventionally be viewed as quite divisive. It kept me guessing until the last frame. Personally, I found originality and charm to each of the movie’s reveals. When one has a script that calls on one girl to selfishly proclaim she has “body dysmorphia” amongst very legitimate trauma, there is simply no denying gen-Z spoof energy has been bottled. Much of the commentary on our modern culture, political correctness, and even the vapidness in making TikToks, soar in relatable cringe-comedy fun. Now more than ever, I have grown to treasure when a movie can leave me with a lasting smile—Bodies Bodies Bodies accomplishes that in spades. In spreading the gospel of this mystery/comedy/thriller, I quote Alice in saying, “I’m an ally!”
Bodies Bodies Bodies personifies the phrase “rich people problems” when it debuts exclusively in theaters on Friday, August 5th.
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