Bodies Bodies Bodies
Bodies Bodies Bodies is like And Then There Were None if all the characters were entitled, rich, nihilistic, early twenty-something jerks. It is a dark comedy/thriller that is very much of its time. The screenplay (by Sarah DeLappe) is pretty incisive in how it critiques stereotypes about Gen Z, while also taking shots at said generation. It goes after a fake “woke” mentality and the need to attack wokeness, as well as many other buzzwords that get thrown around a lot these days, sometimes without the user truly understanding what they mean. In a way, the characters satirize themselves through their cluelessness and petty insecurities. The satire is vicious, but it plays fair because these characters are allowed to be deeper than mere cliches. This is a tremendously clever spin on the slasher genre.
The story takes place at a house party on the night of a hurricane. A group of friends get together at a massive estate to get drunk, get high and play games. When the titular murder-mystery game is interrupted by an actual dead body, everyone’s anxieties come out full force as they try to stay alive.
The audience’s entry point into this world is Bee. She is an outsider, brought in by her girlfriend, Sophie. The opening scene is the two of them passionately making-out just before heading toward the home of the parents of Sophie’s best friend, David. It is clear their relationship, what it means to them, will have an important role in what is to come. Indeed, as soon as they arrive, and it is revealed that the others had no idea Sophie was coming, Bee is made to feel like she doesn’t quite belong. There is something off about the way these old friends interact. Even before things get tense, the possibility that maybe they don’t love each other as much as they say they do is definitely there.
The cast is really good at taking what could have simply been shallow morons and given them personalities more complex than their initial traits would indicate. Amandla Stenberg is Sophie, a reckless drug-addict who claims she has turned her life around and is genuinely in love with Bee. Bee is played by Maria Bakalova as a shy young woman, self-conscious about being among these rich kids. David is played by Pete Davidson as the epitome of the bored trust-fund kid, who does whatever he wants because he can. Rachel Sennott is oblivious podcaster Alice. Myha’la Herrold is Jordan, an ex of Sophie’s. Chase Sui Wonders is David’s girlfriend, Emma. Finally, Lee Pace is Alice’s significantly older boyfriend, Greg. None of them are safe from the sharp writing.
Though a movie without any strictly likable characters may sound unpleasant, director Halina Reijn has a great sense of pace, timing and location that it is fun to watch what happens. It certainly helps that she is working with such a good screenplay. It is remarkable that the satire, comedy and thriller elements all coalesce so well. Bodies Bodies Bodies (89 minutes, not including the end credits) is legitimately funny, to go along with its smart social commentary.
It is also legitimately tense. When the power goes out and people start dying, the house takes on an intimidating, sinister quality. The best single-location horror movies make excellent use of their locations. Bodies Bodies Bodies might not be true horror, yet it feels like one at times. Seeing someone climb a large set of stairs in the dark, with no clue what they will find when they get to the top, is unnerving, even after a silly moment or surreal exchange.
That is a credit to Reijn and DeLappe, who burst onto the scene in a big way here. They balance generational satire, character-based humor, thrills and mystery very impressively. They probably could have gotten away with making a genre picture as shallow as its targets and still found some commercial success. However, that was not their aim. On top of that, the cast gives it a boost by being really talented and capable of making these people ridiculous and real at the same time. Summer movies are supposed to be fun. It is nice to see that they can do that without sacrificing intelligence.
4 out of 5
Amandla Stenberg as Sophie
Maria Bakalova as Bee
Rachel Sennott as Alice
Myha’la Herrold as Jordan
Pete Davidson as David
Chase Sui Wonders as Emma
Lee Pace as Greg
Directed by Halina Reijn
Screenplay by Sarah DeLappe