4 out of 5 stars

Bodies Bodies Bodies is a fascinating update on the slasher formula. With a quintessentially Agatha Christie ‘dark and stormy night’ setup, the film’s the spiritual offspring of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring (2013) and video game Among Us. “And Then There Were None” for the terminally online generation. 

Halina Reijn, in her English-language directorial debut, displays an impressive skillset. Bodies Bodies Bodies looks and feels like a horror movie, but it’s not the wild ride of a slasher one might expect. It’s more subdued and acidic than it first appears. The film is also filled with a cadre of obnoxious Gen-Z caricatures, and this impressive cast seems to be having a blast in their roles.

Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) brings her new-ish girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) to a hurricane party—yes, a party literally taking place during a hurricane—that also functions as a reunion of old friends at David’s (Pete Davidson) parent’s mansion. David’s girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), and Alice (Rachel Sennott) make up the rest of the dysfunctional circle of friends, with Alice’s two-week fling Greg (Lee Pace), who’s significantly older than the rest of them, also in attendance.

During the party, the crew decides to play a game called ‘Bodies, Bodies, Bodies’. To play, someone is randomly and anonymously chosen to be ‘the killer’. The lights are then turned off and the killer has to start claiming victims. It’s the perfect setup for a meta-slasher, but the movie has other ideas as the game predictably breaks into real violence.

Everyone in the cast has a moment to shine, although Sennott (Shiva Baby) steals the show with her perfectly-timed line deliveries. Saturday Night Live’s Davidson is also on-brand in a brief-but-important role as David, who’s Sophie’s oldest friend so they know everything about each other and their families—even to the extent Sophie asks David if he can talk to her parents about reopening her trust fund following a stint in rehab.

With the group containing several close and complicated relationships such as the one between David and Sophie, secrets like the above-mentioned come flying out in the confined, stressful environment. It’s in these relationships and information-spilling where the satirical elements of Bodies Bodies Bodies begin to take hold. It isn’t quite the Gen-Z version of Scream (1996) it strives to be—and that I hoped it would be—but it does carry effective commentary and criticism of Zoomers.  

Reijn’s direction and her top-notch craft make this film stand out from other small-budget satirical horror films. I especially liked how most of the film is lit by cell phone screens and glowsticks once the power goes out. However, the music score by Disasterpeice is overshadowed in the first half by throbbing needle drops, including a party scene soundtracked by Azealia Banks’ “212” (a moment the film shares with The Bling Ring). But Disasterpiece’s versatility shines in the second half when the score bounces back and forth between John Carpenter-style synth and creepy piano plinks. 

The story doesn’t stay its welcome, ending with a hilarious and subversive reveal. Anyone looking for an inventive take on slashers, ‘whodunnits’, and meta-horror will have a good time with Bodies Bodies Bodies. Just when you think you have the film all figured out, it throws a wrench, or a kettlebell, into the system to mix things up.


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Cast & Crew

director: Halina Reijn.
writer: Sarah DeLappe (story by Kristen Roupenian).
starring: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace & Pete Davidson.