Precisely timed needle drops and a staggering body count make director Halina Reijn’s first English-language feature “Bodies Bodies Bodies” a surefire hit with today’s teens. The A24 distributed film infuses so many different genres into its cohesive ninety-four-minute runtime that every twist and turn of the plot (and knife) feels unexpected, yet confidently earned.
The premise is simple: A group of rich 20-somethings, in addition to a 40-year-old Tinder date, are trapped in David’s (played by Pete Davidson) family’s mansion as a hurricane passes through, a game of “Bodies Bodies Bodies” (their name for a murder-in-the-dark style game) becomes real as the group finds one another dead throughout the house. These “friends” become enemies as they shift blame from one person to the next in order to find who is the culprit.
The cast of characters may be the film’s biggest strength, due in part to both the brilliant talent on screen but also Sarah DeLappe’s strong script. Amandla Stenberg plays Sophie, a wealthy recovering addict, who travels to the mansion with her new girlfriend, Bee (Academy Award nominee Maria Bakalova).
Once at the party, Sophie reconnects with her childhood friend David, his actress girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), aspiring podcaster Alice (Rachel Sennott), her middle-aged boyfriend (Lee Pace), and the strong-willed Jordan (Myha’la Herrold).
Each character feels like they were ripped right out of an elite east coast college campus and thrown into this wild tale of trust and deception. They are so authentically Gen-Z in the way they communicate with one another (“You’re always gaslighting me!” and “You are so toxic!”) as they try to piece together the clues of each murder—and even make some Tik Tok videos along the way.
While sometimes the film feels like it is trying too hard to connect with modern audiences, it becomes apparent that this is completely a satire on these mannerisms.
The best example of this comes at the end of the second act when Sennott’s character Alice, the film’s standout star, tries to make an argument with the group become a “pity me” session. Alice’s complete lack of situational awareness causes her to admit to having body dysmorphia in this extremely tense moment.
In typical Gen-Z fashion, characters try to insert themselves into the worst possible moments by making the moment about them. Obviously, this is a serious issue that Alice admits to, but it shows just how each character tries to outshine the others—even if the person they’re trying to outshine was just brutally murdered.
This all leads back to praising DeLappe’s script, which is marvelously paired with Reijn’s direction. The film knows when to break the tension of a scene with the perfect amount of comedy, making it this generation’s “Scream.” In typical teen movie fashion, “Bodies” even features a fitting end credits song (“Hot Girls” by Charlie XCX) that perfectly captures the tone of the film and the generation it is attempting to captivate.
Like great whodunnits of recent years, the script keeps the audience on their toes until literally the very end. Reijn holds the grand surprise for the film’s final scene which is one of the most cynically hilarious moments to grace the silver screen in quite some time. If the audience considers themselves awful people for laughing, then DeLappe did her job when putting the big reveal on the page.
Unlike great films that take place primarily in one location, such as “Knives Out,” Reijn struggles with giving the audience a sense of location when she jumps between one room of the mansion to another. It can sometimes be hard to follow where exactly one scene is occurring in relation to others because of the size of the film’s mansion, which seems as though it has an endless supply of rooms.
The film does a poor job of exposition early on regarding the film’s setting which keeps audiences that much more in a haze further into the story when trying to put the pieces together for this murder mystery. It’s a minute point, but one that can easily take the audience out of the film’s guessing game.
For all its small faults, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is not only an easy way to spend an hour and a half, but also an extremely rewarding one. Had distributor A24 put more care into the film’s release, it would have had all the attention of social media outlets. Instead, the film has unfairly only gathered just north of $10 million at the box office as of this publication. It will sure find its way into the rightful hands of Gen-Z when it hits a streaming service and become a sort of cult classic in the near future.