REVIEW: Bodies Bodies Bodies [2022]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: R | Runtime: 94 minutes
    Release Date: August 5th, 2022 (USA)
    Studio: A24
    Director(s): Halina Reijn
    Writer(s): Sarah DeLappe / Kristen Roupenian (story)

He’s a libra moon!


The reasons for ignoring the group chat were legitimate. Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) had checked into rehab and needed time working through things while readjusting her life to sobriety. Jumping back in with her equally privileged twenty-something products of wealth would probably have been the worst choice she could have made. But things are different now. She’s in love. And while her and Bee (Maria Bakalova) have only known each other six weeks, we can guess that Sophie has never been happier. So, with the strength of love and an outsider to the group on her arm, she decides to reenter the party—confident everything will unfold as if no time had passed. Choosing a drug-fueled “hurricane party” at David’s (Pete Davidson), however, means diving into the deep end.

Director Halina Reijn and screenwriter Sarah DeLappe (rewriting from an older script by Kristen Roupenian) ensure we know this to be fact the moment Sophie is noticed by Alice (Rachel Sennott) from the bottom of the pool (everyone’s playing a game to see who can hold their breath the longest). While she runs to hug their long-lost bestie, the others barely muster a smile as they wonder aloud about what she’s doing here. No congrats on still being alive. No welcoming her in to join the fun. It’s almost as though Sophie’s presence means the party is over before it began—either because her penchant for excess will prove too much or her newfound sobriety will transform her into a buzzkill. Either way, the mood has definitely shifted.

Catty remarks about not answering the group chat, blatantly telling looks, and a desire to make certain Bee knows she’s the odd person out abound, yet things steer back on-course once the torrential rain hits to initiate a suggestion of Bodies Bodies Bodies. It’s pretty much Mafia/Werewolf with all participants choosing a folded piece of paper. The one who gets the “X” is deemed the murderer and subsequently compelled to tag someone else on the back once the lights go out to “kill” them. Whomever finds the “body” yells “bodies bodies bodies,” the lights come back on, and everyone accuses each other of being the culprit. Add the drugs, alcohol, and entitlement, however, and it’s no surprise some hate playing. The game always devolves into arguments and tears.

This time is no exception, but there’s a twist: someone does die. What can they do? The rain is coming down and the power has gone out. All they have at their disposal are cellphone lights and whatever sharp or blunt objects are easily accessible. Do they wonder if an intruder has crashed the festivities? Not even once. They don’t need to since their jealousies and superiority complexes make it so none of them have trouble assuming the worst in each other. Sophie feels resentment from everyone but Alice. David feels challenged by Alice’s older boytoy Greg (Lee Pace). Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) is already feeling judged by what happened the night before (yet to be revealed). And Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) is itching for a fight.

Could any of them have done it, though? Sure, they’re paranoid beyond belief and harboring deep-seated issues, but murder? The only person we think to be innocent is Bee since we’re with her when she sees the first victim banging on an outside window, but that type of perspective might also be a red herring. What about the missing member of their party, Max (Conner O’Malley)? No one has seen him in hours after he left in a rage. How well does anyone know Greg? Maybe he’s a serial killer preying upon naïve children. It’s also not long before discovering they’re all lusting over each other regardless of their official romantic attachments. Whose love would push them towards violence? Trust is a luxury none can afford.

Grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride as each character turns feral. Not even wanting to get in the other’s pants will stop them from accusations of guilt. If anything, rejection may even get some of them to point their fingers out of petty retribution. It’s funny how quickly things unravel too. All those mean-spirited jokes they lob at each other before starting to play the “game” come to life in vivid detail with allegiances and history getting thrown out the window for pure self-preservation. Drugs, dumbbells, guns, and stairs are all fair game as weapons and David’s parents’ home is so big that screaming for help has as much chance of attracting the killer as it does a savior. They’re soon murdering each other just in case.

The chaos becomes more addictive and the dialogue more narcissistic with every passing minute and the only surefire defense is, as Greg so succinctly puts it, a good offense. If you kill everyone else, they can’t kill you. And are their lives worth more than yours? Of course not. Not when you have the sort of trust fund hush money to make a mansion full of blood-stained carpets and bodies go away. The only consequence any of them care about is their own death. Everything else is fair game. If not for the wifi dropping with the electricity, half of them would probably be live streaming the whole ordeal anyway as a means of proving their self-defense pleas. It’s dog-eat-dog Darwinism amongst silver spoons. No “Xs” prove necessary.

Is Bodies Bodies Bodies a slasher horror as a result? I guess technically when you consider content, but context skews black comedy instead. It’s a Gen-Z satire that’s relevant for all ages since every generation saw friend groups turn cannibalistic (especially if bound by affluence rather than genuine friendship) and every generation eventually grows old enough to pretend theirs didn’t (I can imagine Boomers watching this film and scoffing at the “Millennials” because they’re too busy yelling at clouds to realize Millennials are all pushing forty now). The cast is game (Stenberg, Sennott, and Davidson are highlights, often poking fun at themselves) and Reijn is happy to let their characters shed their humanity with ease. And while the reveal is obvious, its hilarious predictability renders it perfect, nonetheless.


photography:
[1] (L-R) Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott Credit: Erik Chakeen
[2] (L-R) Lee Pace, Pete Davidson Credit: Erik Chakeen
[3] (L-R) Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott Credit: Erik Chakeen

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