I’m not really too sure what I went in expecting from Bodies Bodies Bodies, the much anticipated new film from director Halina Reijn and A24 Films, but it wasn’t quite this. Billed as a horror-comedy, reviews ran that this painfully Gen-z slasher was going to herald a new wave of woke, self-reflective, gore filled romps; and while it is all of things, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Beginning in an almost unbelievably perfect mansion deep in the woods, our band of pretentious American rich kids seem ripe for the picking by any opportunistic machete-wielding slasher who happened to be walking by.
Obsessed with their phones and surviving seemingly subsisting on drugs, expensive alcohol and cake alone (don’t worry, it’s laced with pot), the seven unwitting players begin to bicker even before the big hurricane lands as newly together couple: Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and Bee (Maria Bakalova), arrive unannounced, and unwanted.
The rifts and turmoil in the group begin to grow larger as the storm batters their palatial shelter.
Throughout their clumsily foreshadowing and titular ‘murder game’ Bodies Bodies Bodies, their host David (Pete Davidson) insults his long suffering, overly sensitive girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) and the rest of the motly crew, Sophie’s irritable ex, Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), and podcast host Alice (Rachel Sennott), fracture and split in a variety of ways. Well, except for Alice’s much older boyfriend, Greg (Lee Pace), who feels like an oddly calm addition to the neurotic, glamorously nihilistic hyena pack.
By the time the hurricane takes out the power, I was frankly feeling a little murderous myself.
As the lights go out, their previous hedonism turns to a frenzied game of hide and seek lit by glow sticks and iPhone torches. One by one the privileged brats are ‘picked off’, as psyches and backstories unravel in a series of over the top, bloody murders.
It feels like Lord of the Files on molly; like Euphoria with far more gore.
When the storm and the slashing ceased, I, a big fan of both A24 and ‘scary’ films in general, was left dissatisfied. Yes there was blood and gore; yes the characters adhered to common tropes, even having a ‘final girl’ and yes, there was a twist I could not predict but… if we are looking at this as purely a horror film, there seemed to be something lacking?
In retrospect, it is an incredibly well made film. The cinematography is the same high quality that I expect from the creators of Midsummar and Moonlight: luxurious lingering shots of the mansion’s opulence juxtaposed beautifully with the frenetic jump cuts of half-lit chase scenes. Additionally the grander ideas behind the film are phenomenal – it is a rich representation of the bitter flaws of the modern generation. All the characters are cruel, vain, wealthy and lawless; Reijn uses them as a cracked mirror for our own self reflection; a tool to examine our own vapid husks of algorithm-driven identity.
In short, if you are looking for a fun few hours of horror-comedy escapism, this is not the film for you. I did not enjoy Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – but I’m not sure I was supposed to.