'Bodies Bodies Bodies' review: Sharp social satire goes for the jugular
Courtesy of A24
An impressively crafted whodunit made for the social media generation, Halina Reijn’s bloody and savage satire “Bodies Bodies Bodies” lives up to the name. Here’s a movie unafraid of throwing vicious narcissists in a room filled with booze, drugs, and vape smoke, rattle them up, and see where they land. Zigging more than it zags, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” builds on the foundation that generational wealth and privilege only extends so far, traversing down a rabbit hole of self-deprecation where the only thing visible is an iPhone flashlight sputtering because of a low battery. Ruthless and at times completely manic, there are elements of “Bodies Bodies Bodies” that could have benefited from a touch more finesse, but Reijn keeps the tensions boiling as the group urgently tries pinpointing the root of their evil and reconnecting the WiFi.
Sporting a witty script by Sarah DeLappe who’s vibrant assault of dialogue occasionally unspools faster and harder than a Quentin Tarantino joint, the film immediately sets the stage with Sophie (Amandla Stenberg, a standout in “The Hate U Give,”) and Bee (Maria Bakalova from “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”), two young lovers spending the weekend with the former’s closest friends in the middle of what’s expected to be a dangerous storm. Sophie’s wealthy friends are throwing a “hurricane” party at a lavish mansion upstate, and despite constant reminders that her squad: “aren’t that bad,” it becomes obvious within the first ten minutes, as the group unleashes distrusting attitudes, sarcastic remarks, and passive glares, there’s deep seeded animosity prevalent.
Here we meet David (Pete Davidson - having all sorts of coked-up fun), an egotistical gaslighter who bitches anytime someone uses the word: “gaslight.” Davidson is clearly playing into some of the harsher online criticism of his physique: “Do I look like a white supremercist?” he quips at one point and in another laments how he’s better looking than the other guy in the room, Greg (Lee Pace) because “I fuck.” There’s Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), David’s actress girlfriend with one major credit on her belt, though it makes her an easy target; pals Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) and Alice (Rachel Sennott who made waves in last years sensational “Shiva Baby”) and her boyfriend, the aforementioned Greg who opens bottles of champagne with machetes.
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” enjoys unraveling the character's checkered history through the lens of clout and influence. None more so than Sophie who everyone has beef with because she was forced into rehab and actually found a silver of happiness they can’t fathom. Put another way, these people are vile, ugly creatures ready to slit throats and take names once their backs are turned, making the idea to play a quick, innocent round of “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” a social game that’s a cross of “Mafia” and “One Night Ultimate Werewolf,” which requires major levels of deceit, all the more intense. You would assume each player should have an upper hand, but when things take a deadly, gruesome turn, fingers get pointed and people spiral into drunken rages trying to find cell service and weed out any shady behavior. Think “Among Us” times eleven.
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” isn’t shy about which generation is being skewered (If casting Pete Davdison wasn’t already a clear indicator), and sometimes it can be cute and tidy for what the climax entails. But as much as “Bodies Bodies Bodies” goes for broke, the conflicts within the group could have been harsher and perhaps a shade bloodier. Literally and figuratively. Some of the conversational set pieces don’t leave much room for interpretation and, if you’re looking hard enough, the ending might be easy to decipher, but the script knows when it’s showing too much grit and despite some of the banter feeling lifted by a toxic Facebook comments section, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” fucks around and finds out.
Reijn utilizes the single location setting to her advantage, lingering on dark hallways and bouncing around the various staircases in dizzying succession. Sometimes it’s hard keeping up with the layout and design of the mansion (my brain kept wondering how sprawling this place actually is), but it paves the way for thrilling escapades: an accusation sequence inside a red lit home gym is a textbook example of how to carefully thread the line between sympathy and nihilism. “It Follows” composer Disasterpeace delivers another exceptional score, outfitting “Bodies Bodies Bodies” with enough juice to earn its street cred among inventive social thrilles, and have clips eventually end up in the ethos of Tik-Tok, waiting to be discovered for the next decade.
BODIES BODIES BODIES is now playing in theaters.