‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ a smart horror comedy about some very dumb people
Instead of banding together when the bloodshed starts, narcissistic millennials and Gen Z-ers start backstabbing one another in devilishly funny slasher satire.
“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” – Anton Chekhov.
Oh do they have fun with “Chekhov’s Gun” in the razor-sharp and pitch-black horror comedy blood-fest that is “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” the latest in a recent stream of self-aware social satires (“Vengeance,” “Not Okay”) about narcissistic millennials and Gen Z-ers who think of their lives as ongoing narratives made for Twitter and Instagram and TikTok and are almost never in the moment because they’re too busy recording the moment, posing for the moment and offering superficial and self-indulgent commentary on the moment.
With clever and assured direction filled with striking visuals by the Dutch actor-writer-filmmaker Halina Reijn (adapting Sarah DeLappe’s screenplay, which is based on a story by Kristen Roupenian) and a cast of talented and great-looking young actors throwing themselves into the wonderfully twisted material, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” plays like a slasher-film update of “And Then There Were None,” with a dash of the classic “Twilight Episode” episode titled “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” sprinkled in.
A24 presents a film directed by Halina Reijn and written by Sarah DeLappe. Rated R (for violence, bloody images, drug use, sexual references and pervasive language). Running time: 94 minutes. Opens Wednesday at local theaters.
Not that there’s a chance in Hades any of these preening idiots has ever seen “The Twilight Zone” or is aware of anything that took place before they came into this world, as they’re just about the most vapid, nihilistic, self-consumed and petty group you’ll ever see. (They’re like older siblings of the gang from “Euphoria”—with murder added to the mix of sex and drugs and duplicitous machinations.)
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” kicks off with Amandla Stenberg’s Sophie, who has recently finished a stint in rehab, passionately kissing her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova from “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) and telling Bee the people she’s about to meet aren’t as awful as they might initially appear to be. Is Bee about to meet Sophie’s parents? No way, this isn’t some 1990s comedy; we’re talking about Sophie’s longtime best friends (and one new addition to the group), including:
- Rachel Sennott’s Alice, who has a podcast and loves the sound of her own voice and has recently Tindered-up with a McConaughey-esque older dude named Greg (Lee Pace), who has ripped abs and a hippie-dippie disposition and, apparently, the I.Q. of a potato.
- Chase Sui Wonders’ Emma, an aspiring actress with a fragile personality, and Emma’s boyfriend David (Pete Davidson), a smarmy, trust-fund brat who prattles about in a hoodie, saying terrible things about, well, everybody.
- Myha’la Herrold’s Jordan, who is Sophie’s ex and is so angry and intense and has so many chips on her shoulder it’s a wonder she doesn’t tip over.
They’ve all gathered at the Westchester County, New York, mansion owned by David’s absentee parents so they can party the weekend away and ride out a hurricane. Sophie and Bee are welcomed with passive-aggressive sincerity on the part of some and outright hostility from others. (Bee has brought a loaf of homemade zucchini bread as a friendly gesture and is instantly mocked for it. What is this girl, SINCERE or something?) When Sophie announces she’s sober, there are some phony expressions of admiration and encouragement, followed quickly by more shots of tequila, more glasses of champagne, more lines of coke, more tokes of weed, more snarky comments. We can understand why these rich, privileged, backstabbing people have been friends for so long; nobody else would want to spend more than five minutes in their presence.
And that’s what makes it so funny and richly satisfying when the bloodshed begins. We have no idea who the killer is, but we’re kinda rooting for them. Sorry, not sorry.
As the storm begins to rage outside, the group plays a game that involves smacking each other, as hard as possible, across the face. Hilarious! Next up, a round of “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” a role-playing murder game that takes a grisly turn when one member of the group turns up on the pool deck, blood spurting from their neck in classic drive-in movie fashion before they keel over, dead dead dead.
Of course, the power goes out, and of course, nobody can get cell phone service, and of course, terrible secrets are revealed, and horrible insults are hurled and let’s just say the body count doesn’t stop at one. Terms such as “ableist” and “gaslighting” and “toxic” and “body dysmorphia” and “borderline” are bandied about, sometimes to hilariously comedic effect, because these people are so damn clueless, no matter how well-informed they fancy themselves to be.
The ensemble cast is uniformly excellent at capturing the insecurities and the selfish ambitions and the neediness of this group, who turn against one another at a time when they have only each other to protect themselves from the coming storm—and we’re not talking about that hurricane. This is a devilishly funny and terrifically warped slice of slasher satire.