For the vast majority of "Bodies Bodies Bodies," it feels like just another average horror/thriller. But hang in there, because this one sticks the landing with a surprising pay-off that is well worth the investment.
A talented cast of the best Gen-Z has to offer, "Bodies Bodies Bodies" has a lot to say, even if it takes quite a while to finally say it. A group of wealthy Zillennials gather at one of their parent's remote mansions, to throw a "hurricane party," which basically is when the partygoers use an incoming storm as an excuse to party. David's (Pete Davidson) parents are gone, but his friends are ready to rock-n-roll (not sure that's an appropriate phrase given the age group, but I'm going to go with it). His on-again, off-again girl, Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) is with him, as is their hot-headed friend, Jordan (Myha'la Herrold). The life-of-the-party, Alice (Rachel Sennott, the stand-out from last year's marvelous "Shiva Baby"), has brought along a new, much older boyfriend, Greg (Lee Pace). And on the way to the party, we meet the couple Sophie (Amandla Stenberg, a rising Hollywood star) and her new girlfriend, the quiet and timid Bee (Maria Bakalova, from "Borat 2").
Once all the players are in place, the genre rules are established: Nobody is getting cell phone service way out in the forest and with the storm and all...the only vehicle on premises has a light left on, so it will surely not start later in the film...David's parents have a samurai sword that happens to be out on display (I wonder if this will be important later on!). And so on and so forth.
As the day turns to night and the storm rolls in, the drug and alcohol-fueled party commences. The group decides to play a game called Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, in which one of them is secretly named as "the killer," and with the lights all turned off in the house, "the killer" must sneak up and tag their victim...the victim must then lie on the ground, and if someone comes across this "dead body," they yell out, "Bodies, bodies, bodies!" at which point, the lights come up and the remaining players try to determine which person was the killer.
You can see where this is headed. In the midst of the game, a real dead body sends everyone spiraling. We see how little trust these so-called "friends" have in one another, and how quick they all are to jump to conclusions. As these films tend to go, the audience ends up spending most of their time trying to guess who is the real killer, what exactly is going on, and how exactly this mystery will unfold.
That's where "Bodies Bodies Bodies" excels, in its subversion of our expectations. To spoil the ending would be to spoil the fun, other than to say that the actual killer or killers might be who you expect AND who you don't expect.
Along the way, you can tell that the filmmakers (director Halina Reijn and screenwriter Sarah DeLappe) have a lot to say about this vapid, overly-confident but ill-informed group of Gen-Zers. They are privileged and invincible, quick to blame and slow to reflect. They are actually their own worst enemy. And that seems to be the exclamation point.
The ending is so well-conceived that it makes up - just barely - for a lot of slow, uneventful scenes leading up to it. That ending is somewhat shocking and funny all rolled into one, and it ties things together in a way that makes wasted earlier scenes now feel important. But the experience of watching "Bodies Bodies Bodies" might feel a bit too familiar for much of it to register. In fact, it's much more impactful as a satire than as a thriller.
But the cast is on fire - especially Stenberg and Sennott - and the film feels just unique enough to stand out from the crowd.
Genre: Horror, Thriller.
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes.
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Pete Davidson, Chase Sui Wonders, Lee Pace, Myha'la Herrold.
Directed by Halina Reijn ("Instinct").
"Bodies Bodies Bodies" is in theaters on Friday, August 12th, 2022.
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