Social satire meets a stacked body count in A24's fizzy, savage Gen-Z house horror.
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BODIES BODIES BODIES (2022) (L-R) Maria Bakalova, Amandla Stenberg, Myha’la Herrold, Rachel Sennott Credit: Gwen Capistran/A24

Horror movies can and do kill whoever they want to, but their primary food group has always been youth. (And their key audience, too; by the time you've lived a few decades, there seems to be less urgency to seek this stuff out — maybe because the threat of ordinary mortality has already become more than enough off-screen.)

So it makes sense that the genre, or at least a certain self-aware subset of it, so often tends to reflect the zeitgeist of the moment: the slang, the soundtrack, various evanescent trends in hair and footwear. And few movies feel as extravagantly 2022 as Bodies Bodies Bodies, a blithe, ruthless slasher satire soaked in the digital-native lingo and dizzy Euphoria nihilism of Gen Z.  

Bodies Bodies Bodies
Credit: Erik Chakeen/A24

It's also A24, which puts a particular arthouse veneer on the prospect of watching a villa full of doomed, gorgeous young people methodically meet their heinous ends. Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) is fresh out of rehab, and deep in the infatuation phase of new love with her girlfriend of two months, Bee (Maria Bakalova). They've been invited to crash at the family vacation home of Sophie's best friend, David (Pete Davidson), where a gamut of coded greetings meets them: Party-girl Alice (Shiva Baby star Rachel Sennott) is performatively giddy, and her date Greg (Lee Pace), an elder millennial with laser-etched abs, hey-man serene. The fiercely self-contained Jordan (Industry's Myha'la Herrold) and David's delicate actress girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) seem less thrilled to see their old friend.

If Sophie wants to keep her sobriety through the weekend, there's a lot she'll have to say no to: Weed, cocaine, and champagne — along with a thick frisson of tension — have long ago entered the chat, and the evening is already starting to tip off the rails when someone suggests a round of Bodies Bodies Bodies, a Mafia-meets-Sardines murder game. The hurricane raging outside the windows is a pretty good indicator of the bloody chaos to come; soon there's a real body on the pool deck, and the lights-out panic begins.

Director Halina Reijn, a 46-year-old Danish actress and veteran of avant-garde indies, doesn't stint on gleeful, preposterous Final Destination deaths, but her real focus lies in the fraught dynamics of the group — the thrum of class warfare, weaponized friendships, and old wounds simmering beneath the glowstick halos and sloppy hugs. Bakalov's Bee is foreign in more ways than one, an anxious interloper who works at a GameHut and naively presents a loaf of homemade zucchini bread to the host. The daffy, over-emotive Alice has a podcast that everyone is careful to tell her they adore while David, a casual misogynist in a shell-pink hoodie set, comes at Emma and Greg with increasingly open hostility.

In a world where online culture (these days, is there any other kind?) devours and regurgitates itself on a near-daily basis, some of the dialogue inevitably already shows its age; lines about triggering and being silenced feel too broad for the rest of Sarah DeLappe's nimble, knife-edged script. Some of the plot turns, too, don't quite hold up to scrutiny, though the final twist is a chef's kiss. The bright-young-things cast, though, is wildly watchable, unpacking a nest of comic absurdities and deeper anxieties that even final girls don't often get the chance to play in movies like these. (Pace is also a stealth MVP in his too-brief scenes, the archetype of sunny Tinder-guy inanity.) Depending on your demographic, Bodies will probably either make you feel seen or utterly obsolete. But it's also just straight-up fun: a black-hearted comedy of manners meets contemporary social nightmare, written in blood and vape smoke. Grade: B+

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BODIES BODIES BODIES (2022) (L-R) Maria Bakalova, Amandla Stenberg, Myha’la Herrold, Rachel Sennott Credit: Gwen Capistran/A24
Bodies Bodies Bodies

When a group of rich twentysomethings throws a hurricane bash at a remote family mansion, things take a turn when a party game turns deadly.

 

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