Friends are complicated…
…Within a group of friends, there are always secrets. Lies. Mistrust. A sad truth? Sure, but to suggest otherwise would be to kid ourselves. In her whodunit horror comedy, Bodies Bodies Bodies (which is not a slasher, as some may believe), director Halina Reijn slices into the dynamics of social circles with pinpoint precision.
Written by Sarah DeLappe, Bodies Bodies Bodies introduces us to shy Bee (Maria Bakalova), traveling with new girlfriend Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) to a mansion where Sophie’s friends are planning on having a hurricane party. But when they get there, Sophie’s best friend and host, David (Pete Davidson), seems surprised she came. Fueled by drinks and an exorbitant amount of cocaine, tensions escalate as the group decides to play a murder mystery game called Bodies Bodies Bodies, eventually leaving one of them dead for real and a bunch of drugged out of their mind teens attempting to figure out which one of them is the killer.
For those that think A24 only puts out high-brow, “weird” horror, Bodies Bodies Bodies may surprise you because it’s anything but (and I mean that in the best possible way). Aimed at a Gen Z audience, this is a highly entertaining party film meant for sleepovers that lets the bodies bodies bodies hit the floor.
Framed like somewhat of a teenage Clue—but with bloody violence--Bodies Bodies Bodies unveils a cast of intriguing, rich, horny teens who all seem to be hiding something. When Bee and Sophie first arrive, they find the other guests at the pool, where we meet bubbly Alice (Rachel Sennott) and her new (much older) boyfriend, Greg (Lee Pace), David’s wannabe actress girlfriend who he can’t stop needling, Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) and Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), who ominously suggests Bee be careful with Sophie. There’s also mention of Max (Conner O’Malley), who is nowhere to be found after fighting with David and driving off. Before the first awkward hugs are made, hostility sizzles in the air.
Bodies Bodies Bodies is a perfect storm of bubbling suspicion. Set in a sprawling mansion surrounded by high fences during a vicious hurricane—hurricane parties are a real thing, look them up—the potential is already set for a night of isolation and eerie atmospherics (which Reijn uses to great effect). But the deeper we get into the first act, the more DeLappe’s sharp as talons script shreds into the strained relationships of the characters. The film serves up laughs one after the other like a flight of shots—Sennott in particular is hilarious—yet the strength of this chaotic murder mystery is in DeLappe’s ruthless dialogue which pricks at the most vulnerable aspects of the cast. Trapped and with a dead body on their hands, it doesn’t take long for veils to lift and claws to come out. Some of Bodies Bodies Bodies most memorable moments come from angry rants that make you sit back, put a hand to your mouth and mutter “damn”.
The brilliance in all of this is that it keeps the audience guessing until the very end. Everyone is a suspect. Not one of them, even our main protagonist, Bee, is all that reliable. The game which the group plays, Bodies Bodies Bodies, is a lot like the game “Werewolf”, in which someone is randomly selected to be the “killer” and kills in secret, with players guessing who the murderer is after each death. The film follows the same idea. We don’t see most of the murders, only the bloody corpses, leaving us and the characters to speculate. “Trust” becomes a forgotten word by these friends, with each new body resulting in a frenzy of angry accusations. Every time you think you know who the killer is, the narrative throws an electrified curveball.
The fun really gets going once Bodies Bodies Bodies devolves into complete and utter pandemonium.
After the lights go out and the cast is left to run around the enormous house with nothing but the flashlights on their phones, all bets are off. Reijn’s film isn’t heavy on thrills or chills, but still delivers a few pulse-pounding sequences that might not fill you up on frightening party favors, but at least satisfy that craving for a good “holy shit” moment or two. Bodies Bodies Bodies doesn’t hold back on the violence, either. Sure, most kills are off-screen, but what we do see is shocking and, at times, hysterical. Solid editing and punchy dialogue along with Reijn’s understanding of knowing when to allow the audience to breathe all blend together for a Bloody Mary of a cocktail, spicy and delicious.
Not every character motivation makes sense and feels forced to fit the narrative. Some lines are more intent on becoming memes than reading as natural for the character. And you’ll pull your hair out at many of the terrible decisions made by these people. They clearly don’t watch horror movies. None of that is enough kill the buzz of this party though, because Bodies Bodies Bodies is a sexy, fierce, fun as hell whodunit that makes for a wild time at the movies.
Bodies Bodies Bodies comes to limited theaters on August 5th and everywhere August 12th from A24.
By Matt Konopka