Film reviews and more since 2009

Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) review

Dir. Halin Reijn

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★★★

Bodies Bodies Bodies opens with a sultry French kiss between Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and Bee (Maria Bakalova), two young lovers headed to a weekend getaway at Sophie’s friend’s palatial estate. The reason? A “hurricane party” of course. You know the type. When people stand outside in a torrential downpour coupled with high-winds and scream at the sky: “is that all you fucking got?!?!”

Sophie’s friend is David (Pete Davidson), a pugnacious smartass with no filter and wealthy parents. Also along for the ride is David’s timid girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), the prickly Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), and party-hardy Alice (Rachel Sennott), in tow with her latest, significantly older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace).

It’s your average twentysomething party, assisted by blaring music, weed, coke, and TikTok dance. Until the effects of the drugs smother the warmth and the crew starts to bicker. Much of the group still harbors a grudge towards Sophie for her caustic behavior prior to her stint in rehab. Nobody trusts Bee, the lonely and sorta suspicious Eastern European girl. And what the hell is a guy almost twice their age doing there anyway?

The cantankerous bunch decide to play “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” a game with faux-murder and deception at its core. When the power goes out due to the storm, and one of the kids is found with their throat slashed, the finger-pointing commences.

Damn the usually-stellar marketers at A24 for selling Bodies Bodies Bodies as a slasher when it is most certainly not. This is a whodunit through-and-through, written by Sarah DeLappe (working off a spec script/story from Kristen Roupenian), who ostensibly doesn’t hold Gen-Z in very high regard. This is the most toxic, self-absorbed crop of whiners you can shove into a multi-million dollar home for a night of debauchery, who still ultimately remain miserable. The type to get bitchy over one of their friends being inactive in the group-chat and others who call out “ableist” language in the middle of a heightened argument.

They are drug addicts. They are narcissists. They’re the worst qualities of Twitter users in human form. And almost every one of them gives a downright great performance.

The standout, for me, is Rachel Sennott, playing a completely different person than she did in her major debut Shiva Baby. Sennott convincingly plays a hot mess express; an unhealthy yet fiercely watchable explosion of manic energy. It’s a thrill to see Maria Bakalova — who still must be on a high after her strong performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm netted her an Oscar nomination — develop as an actress. She makes Bee dimensional, namely when her character remains silent for long periods of time: watching, observing, reacting, even tearing-up occasionally. Lee Pace looks like Kirkland Signature Aaron Rodgers at certain angles, and his eccentric warmth and stupidity is fun to watch in itself. After several serious roles (most notably in The Hate U Give), Amandla Stenberg gets her deserved time to shine.

Oh, and damn the haters: I like Pete Davidson!

Bodies Bodies Bodies plays a risky game in satirizing the very demographic it seeks to attract into the theater. Misrepresenting this film as a slasher does it no favors either. Sometimes, its presentation is as messy as the characters themselves. There were occasional stretches where I was unmoved — or, to quote one of several earworm-songs played in the film, “bored in the house, in the house bored” — largely when the characters were plodding around the spacious abode with iPhone flashlights as their only source of illumination. In some ways, this film is elevated largely by its charismatic cast playing unsavory personalities. Halina Reijn’s film has enough fuel in the tank to succeed on that, thankfully.

NOTE: Bodies Bodies Bodies is now playing exclusively in theaters.

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davison, Lee Pace, and Conner O’Malley. Directed by: Halina Reijn.

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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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