Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
"Bodies Bodies Bodies" stars Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace, Myha'la Herrold, and Conner O'Malley. Released on August 5, 2022, the film has a group of friends searching for the murderer in a remote mansion.
The film was directed by Halina Reijn, who also directed "Instinct". A party isn't complete without an exciting game or two. Sure, there are also some junk food and soda to rot our teeth with, but they don't bring the same energetic vibe as doing an activity with the guests. But what if there's a party game that offers a different type of vibe? A vibe that's as bloody and horrific as a dead body? This film has just the game for us to play, and it's to die for. The movie takes the simple approach of an innocent murder-in-the-dark party game and turns it into a whodunit filled with insanity and blood. This concept and the teen cast are enough for me to attend this crazy gathering. With that said, let's see if this party is as crazy as its murderous game.
The story follows Bee (Bakalova), a working-class woman from Eastern Europe. She travels with her girlfriend Sophie (Stenberg) to a "hurricane party" at a mansion owned by Sophie's childhood friend David (Davidson). Upon arrival, Bee and Sophie encountered the other guests, including David's girlfriend Emma (Wonders), podcaster Alice (Sennott), Alice's boyfriend Greg (Pace), and Jordan (Herrold). They eventually decided to play "Bodies Bodies Bodies", a murder in the dark-style party game. However, when the game goes poorly, and the power goes out, the guests find David with his throat slashed, turning a harmless game into a bloody nightmare. Now stranded in the mansion during the storm, Sophie, Bee, and the guests scramble to find the person responsible for killing David and avoid going insane.
The movie has the makings of a usual whodunnit slasher film where a group of teenagers gets attacked by a mysterious killer. While that's usually the case, "Bodies Bodies Bodies" puts a darkly comedic take on the tiring narrative by satirizing social media and character archetypes amid its mystery. Movies from A24 usually turn a simplistic plot into something that's cryptic, unique, and meaningful. It's something you couldn't get from your typical modern movie, let alone a horror film. So there's no doubt that I was hoping for "Bodies Bodies Bodies" to provide a similar outcome. To no one's surprise, that's what I got. It may not be as constantly chaotic as I thought, but it is a risky portrayal of the scenario that paid off very well.
The movie works as a cleverly compelling take on the genre that provides several twists to keep the party enticing until its surprising conclusion. More importantly, it is also a humorous yet provocative examination of archetype judgment in the current generation, especially when it refers to anxiety. Sarah DeLappe's screenplay offers some solid dialogue referring to how Gen-Z reacts to specific topics in a stereotypical and unapologetically demeaning matter. The script also did well in poking fun at the obvious guesses based on the characters' personality traits and actions. Of course, it doesn't make me or anyone else care more for these guests due to their idiotic behaviors, but I think that's the film's main intention regarding its themes. We're not supposed to grow attached to the characters. Instead, the movie attempts to get its audience to understand people's harmful actions in the current generation and learn from them. If that's the case, I thought the movie successfully took that intention to heart while delivering an entertaining and unexpected whodunit mystery.
While the characters are hard to come by, the young cast made a solid effort to elevate them through their performances and energy. Amandla Stenberg was undeniably solid in her role as Sophie, continuing her healthy career as an underrated young actress worth looking out for. Maria Bakalova, who's fresh off her award-nominated performance in "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm", is looking to capitalize on her surprising debut with her portrayal of Bee. Bakalova was one of the things I enjoyed from the Borat sequel, so I was curious to see if she can pull this type of role off in another adult-rated comedy. While far from memorable, I thought Bakalova did pretty well resembling Bee's shy and concerning personality. Myha'la Herrold was also stellar in manifesting Jordan's nasty and self-absorbed nature, while Wonders and Sennott delivered some decent moments as Emma and Alice, respectively.
My only concern with the movie's story is how misleading it could be for other people based on the marketing. The trailers made it appear to be another generic yet fun slasher film, with the teenage stereotypes getting killed off one by one until the killer is revealed. The final cut does have a few traits from the genre, but regarding its social commentary, Reijn's direction, and surprising finale, it's not technically a scare-your-pants-off type of movie people were expecting it to be. Instead, this is more of a black comedy involving mass hysteria from anxious teens than a typical gore fest we're forced to believe.
As I mentioned earlier, "Bodies Bodies Bodies" was a little disappointing due to it not being as absurdly chaotic as I was hoping for it to be regarding the direction and pacing. However, that doesn't mean it didn't do much to keep my heart racing. Part of that is due to director Halina Reijn. Instead of using jump scares and violence to get my blood pumping, Reijn relies on the escalating dialogue between the characters and its atmosphere to get the most out of the experience. Even though it doesn't have a lot of scares, the movie does make the blackout scenario and the teens' reactions authentically captivating. The score by Disasterpeace also helped elevate the movie's dark tone with his tense chiptune music.
Overall, "Bodies Bodies Bodies" is a clever and darkly comical take on the party-game-gone-wrong trope and the topics confronted by the current generation of teens. While some of the storytelling issues kept it from being a black comedy gem, the movie got the most out of its cast, screenplay, and Reijn's direction to provide some thoughtful entertainment for me. It may also not appeal to fans hoping for another round of generic teen slasher tropes. Still, it's a party worth attending if you're looking for something different and less gory out of the genre.
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