Bodies Bodies Bodies is pitched as a Gen Z slasher, so I expected an unmitigated stream of cringey, TikTok-flavored dialogue. Those expectations were fully met. What I didn’t expect is how funny that eye-roll inducing banter became when everybody started stabbing each other. This is one of the funniest movies of the year. One character threatens to kill another. The response: “You’re so toxic right now!” Somebody shoots someone in the leg after an argument about how hard it is to start a podcast. It goes on and on. I laughed out loud like 15 times.
The film follows a bunch of entitled, wealthy twenty-somethings (someone is labeled ”upper-middle class” with the venom of a slur) hanging out at a “hurricane party” — i.e. a hunkered down boozing session as a storm passes over — in a mansion. Our in-roads to the group is Bee (Maria Bakalova), the new, lower-income girlfriend of one of the party attendees. The eight characters, mostly women, have a complex web of drama and inter-dating history.
Shortly after everyone arrives, the group decides to play the parlor game “bodies bodies bodies,” a cross of hide-and-seek and werewolf/mafia. Interpersonal tensions rise, and then the power goes out. (Everyone panics about losing wifi.) And in that darkness, somebody ends up dead. With the lights out and a car battery mysteriously drained, the murder conspiracy accusations fly and the violence intensifies.
The story is essentially a shabby version of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. From the set-up, I expected the bodies bodies bodies game to provide some structure to the slasher, but the movie quickly discards it except for two brief callbacks. It results in a weirdly shapeless thriller begging for a bit more of a spine beyond “everyone is panicking.” There are a few slow sections, especially in the second half. A few cliches, too: When three people wrestle over a gun, do you think somebody might get shot, and there will be debate about whether it was accidental?
Oh well; unexpectedly, the movie is much more effective as a dark comedy than as proper slasher film. The cast really brings the heat, too. You might find the characters, who run together somewhat, a bit too viscerally unpleasant in their narcissistic privilege, but with the likes of Amandla Stenberg and Rachel Sennott and even Pete Davidson delivering the lines, it’s decadent trash. (Plus, a bunch of them get stabbed or shot, so you can just look forward to that if they bug you.)
Despite the intriguing neon posters, the film’s look is very disappointing: The large majority of Bodies Bodies Bodies takes place overnight with the lights out, meaning much of our lighting comes from harsh iPhone flashlights. Too many of the scenes are flatly dark, with no real sense of blocking or space between the characters. It’s kind of boring to look at.
Bodies Bodies Bodies is a film made by people on Twitter, about people on Twitter, for people on Twitter. It’s nasty, but made with self-deprecating affection, which means you’ll like it whether or not you count yourself among the people it targets with its satire.
- Review Project: 2022: Year in Film