Halina Reijn switches up genres for her sophomore directorial effort in Bodies Bodies Bodies from A24. A party game goes awry when a group of affluent 20-somethings plans a hurricane party at a remote family mansion. That's the film's plot gist, which Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian write and serve as their debut.
Bodies Bodies Bodies opens with a romantic moment between our two lead characters, Sophie (Amandla Steinberg) and Bee (Maria Baklaova). Shortly after that, we get an introduction to the rest of the partygoers, which includes David (Pete Davidson), whose parents own the house where the party is taking place. His girlfriend Emma (Rachel Sennott), brand new couple Greg (Lee Pace) & Alice (Chase Sui Wonders), and fifth wheel Jordan (Myha'la Herrold).
For the first half hour or so, Bodies Bodies Bodies generally follows the template a single location set film requires. There are laughs, questionable behavior, and tons of alcohol. When boredom beings kick in, Sophie suggests playing the game Bodies Bodies Bodies despite the hesitation of one of the partygoers. Naturally, things get out of hand, and a series of events leads to a gruesome death for one of the partygoers. Now in panic mode, the remaining party goers must band together if they hope to stay alive and attempt to figure out who the killer is.
Despite the marketing campaign from the studio, one of the first things I want to point out about the film is that it's more of a thriller mystery comedy than a slasher horror comedy. That's not to say the movie doesn't earn its R rating. It's just not in the way you would expect. Leading the cast are the always delightful Amandla Steinberg and Oscar Nominee Maria Baklaova. Steinberg has been one to watch since her breakout role as Rue in 2012's The Hunger Games.
It's been great to watch Steinberg transition into adult roles, and she's a natural scream queen. Equally impressive is Maria Baklaova, who does a total acting 180 from her debut in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The only other two actors I was familiar with in the film were Pete Davidson and Lee Pace. In my opinion, both men bring their usual acting antics to their required roles, although Davidson was a bit more subdued. The remaining cast all make an impression as well. Rachel Sennott, Myha'la Herrold, and Chase Sui Wonders effectively portray Generation Z archetypes.
Whether a character delivers a monologue about classism or shifts, blame to a so-called friend, the dialogue works, and the ladies all have a moment to shine. I found this somewhat surprising as the film's director is actually in her forties. Whenever the film arrives on the home market, it will be interesting to see the methods that Reijn used to connect with the actors. The film could have easily used the plot template of late thirty-year-olds reuniting and had the same effect.
That said, I'm forty-one, and even when I was the age of the characters, I would never put myself in the situation as horror movies of the eighties taught me well. And as a parent, I did raise my eyebrows at some of the behavior. Nevertheless, when the film's final twist arrives, it's clear that the movie never aspired to be more than an enjoyable dark social satire.
Final Grade: B
Bodies Bodies Bodies opens in theaters tonight.