The year 2022 will be dedicated to the deconstructed slasher, with Scream arriving in January, and now A24's Bodies Bodies Bodies Bodies Bodies arriving for late summer. Horror enthusiasts should count themselves lucky to get the chance to see this clever, funny, and tense horror comedy.
Bodies Bodies Bodies is a satirical film directed by Halina Reijn based on a screenplay by Sarah DeLappe and starring Kristen Roupenian, who has a cult following. Unlike other satirical films, it never lets its commentary overtake the story, instead cleverly weaving it into a narrative that keeps the film's mystery intact throughout the film.
Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) is out for a date with old pals. Bee is the odd one out of Sophie's young, accomplished, upper-class pals: the put-upon David (Pete Davidson), enthusiastic podcaster Alice (Shiva Baby's Rachel Sennott), and passionate actress Emma (Chase Sui Wonders).
The group plans to survive a hurricane in David's parents' house with lots of loud music, dancing, and a healthy (or unhealthy) quantity of alcohol and drugs. Sophie suggests the group play the titular game, a sort of whodunnit party game in which one person is the "murderer," while the others must determine who the perpetrator is. All of this is left to the friends in a massive house with no power, no cell reception, and a dead body on the porch.
Bodies Bodies Bodies Bodies is a refreshing read because it isn't as slasher-like as Halloween or Scream. Despite its pitch-perfect murder mystery, the film plays out more like a classic murder mystery, with a massive estate and a dwindling cast of actors. There's even a missing friend who is often mentioned but never seen by the other characters.
Reijn's direction plays out smoothly during the get-together, with steady camerawork and bright light accentuating the early hours of the gathering, before playing with suffocating darkness and more handheld shots to reinforce the characters' confusion and terror as the night goes on. In one instance, a light therapy mask provides a lot of opportunity for creative lighting.
The real strength of Bodies Bodies Bodies Bodies is in its characters and their interactions with one another, all of which are clearly defined from the first scene. Despite the mostly friendly nature of the individuals present at the house (except for Jordan, the exception is), there are obvious flaws in this friend group that are gradually teased out throughout the film, with minor exchanges and conversations hinting at their flaws. Bee bears the brunt of awkward social interactions, forced to play nice with people who don't understand why
Bodies Bodies is able to combine horror and comedy much more easily than other films do. DeLappe's script tends to use what's sometimes referred to as "millennial speech," a style that attempts to translate actual feelings into Tweet-ready buzzwords (though in the context of the scene, David is almost certainly gaslighting the whole group), but the dialogue remains sharp and passionate throughout.
Bodies Bodies Bodies is a film about friendships and how fragile they can be at times. It's a chicken-egg scenario, but the filmmaker makes it clear that the characters have only remained friends because they've found each other acceptable enough to spend time with. Then there's Greg and Bee, the two outsiders whose personalities perfectly contrast each other. Both approach prevents them from being accused of murder.
Bodies Bodies Bodies is a rare horror comedy that only appears once in a while. Many of the funniest scenes are used to contrast an act of violence or to distract from the anxiety of wandering through darkened hallways. The film's narration and tone are both equally utilized. It never abandons its themes of modern friendship and dishonesty in favor of moving the plot forward.
Bodies Bodies Bodies is now playing in cinemas.