A review of Bodies Bodies Bodies
The latest horror film from A24, Bodies Bodies Bodies, has great dialogue, a lot of humor, and feels more like whodunnit Clue than your typical slasher film. The story centers around a group of mostly twenty-somethings who gather together for a house party before a hurricane. When they decide to play a game to pass the time, things begin to go horribly wrong. This is only the third film directed by Halina Reijn, who is primarily known for her acting career. Written by Sarah DeLappe (screenplay) and Kristen Roupenian (story), it features performances by Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Lee Pace, and Pete Davidson.
Before we get into the titular party game, we are introduced to some of the existing tensions amongst the Gen Z friend group gathered at David’s (Pete Davidson) family mansion. David’s girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), along with friends Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), Alice (Rachel Sennot), and Alice’s forty-year-old Tinder date Greg (played by the wonderful Lee Pace) are all enjoying swimming in the pool when Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) shows up with her new girlfriend, Bee (Maria Bakalova). “You never replied to the group text,” is a refrain heard more than once as Sophie is chastised for just showing up at the party unannounced, fresh out of rehab, after seemingly ghosting her friend group as of late. Not only did she not RSVP, but she brought her new girlfriend (and a stranger to the group) Bee with her without asking. Jordan warns Bee to “watch out for her,” referring to Sophie, but not without obvious tones of jealousy. On the ride up to David’s family home, Bee scrolls through the social media accounts of Sophie’s friends saying, “they all seem so impressive.” She does not seem to fit in with the high-rolling party crowd she has now found herself among.
Some of the most entertaining parts of the film contain character development and petty-yet-timely dialogue between these “friends.” The cast is great. No matter who ends up in a room together, it’s entertaining. Snippy exchanges between exes Jordan and Sophie, or current couple David and Emma, put the audience on edge long before there is any actual bloodshed on screen. Alice’s (Sennott) comedic timing, even when unintentionally spilling gossip, is impeccable. (If you haven’t seen Rachel Sennott in Shiva Baby do yourself a favor and watch it now). Tensions rise quickly between the party’s goofy host David (Davidson) and the hunky more masculine-seeming Greg (Pace). The party really does seem fueled by alcohol, cocaine, and drama-rama. But after some initial bickering, Sophie asks the group who wants to play the murder mystery party game, “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.” When the hurricane finally hits hard the power goes out and that’s when things in the film really begin. One member of the friend group turns up dead. From that moment on, Bodies becomes an actual murder mystery whodunnit, with our paranoid group constantly mistrusting and second-guessing each other as they struggle to figure out who the murderer actually is.
Without electricity, the film is lit by everyone’s cell phones, flashlights, or glow-in-the-dark jewelry as they search the house. It’s foreboding, but it’s also a way to keep the view close-up on its characters. Cinematographer Jasper Wolf worked with director Reijn on her film, Indistinct, and is better known for his work on Monos. In Bodies, Wolf uses those close-up shots to really make the film feel suffocating at times. We are just as anxious as our partygoers as they search the house expecting more horrible things to happen. Without access to the internet, these friends have nothing else to focus on except each other. This is what produces the most disastrous results. Bee (Bakalova) is extremely timid (a huge difference from her performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), which makes her a wild card among the group, along with the extremely laid-back Greg. It’s entertaining and anxiety-inducing to see these differing personalities up against the more vapid catty attitudes of the rest of the group. While acting as a whodunnit, the film also comments on the idea of social media and being too much online. Its characters craft digital identities and when the power goes out, we get to witness how those personas compare to each character’s actual identity. The ideas of trust and sense of self are tested again and again until the film’s very end.
With plenty of neon lights, title cards, and party music, Bodies Bodies Bodies does an excellent job of blending comedy, horror, and mystery to make an extremely entertaining film. Let’s hope we get more from this stellar cast and crew in the future.
Besides watching TV and movies, Diana likes plants, the great outdoors, drawing and reading comics, and just generally rocking out. She has a BA in English Literature and is an art school dropout. You can follow her on Instagram @dldimuro and Twitter @DianaDiMuro