Film: Bodies Bodies Bodies

If Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) is a peculiar entry in the “privilege-gets-its-comeuppance” subgrenre of horror-thrillers, it’s because it stealths it way into that territory, ramping into social commentary as it goes. The story involves a group of young friends who throw a party at a mansion during an expected hurricane. Introducing us to the fraught subculture of this wealthy friend group is Sophie (Amandla Stenberg), a recovering addict who brings her new, working-class girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) along for the festivities. Witnessed from Bee’s quiet, outsider perspective, the social dynamics of this group are quickly revealed to be quite complicated—a situation that only escalates when Sophie suggests a game of “bodies bodies bodies,” a Mafia-style guessing game involving a make-believe assassin knocking off the participants one by one. Things get out of hand, of course, when the storm knocks out the power—and someone literally turns up dead, setting off a chain reaction of violent suspicion.

Bodies Bodies Bodies delivers a classic slasher set-up: a group of young, attractive people in an isolated setting, gradually getting offed under mysterious circumstances. The intrigue is more successful early, as we watch Bee—appealingly played by Bakalova—attempt to decode the baggage-laden social network she has awkwardly infiltrated. Once the bodies start to fall, the plot becomes less interesting and more expected on that score. But the mounting hysteria is effectively executed, the brisk plot propelled by the promise of an answer to its murderous questions. As the characters turn against one another trying to find the killer, the film’s theme crystallizes, a barbed critique of the vapid online culture that shaped these people. This messaging emerges as awkward dark comedy in the midst of an otherwise severe conflict; the unevenness of the humor makes for a clashy vibe. But the performers—Bakalova, Stenberg, Pete Davidson, Myha’la Herrold, Lee Pace, Rachel Sennott, and Chase Sui Wonders—are perfectly cast, and the script teases out their toxic secrets with a deft hand. In the end, it’s not quite as successful in its mastery of tone and subtext as, say, The Menu or Ready or Not—films that play in a similar sandbox that succeed in the moment, whereas Bodies Bodies Bodies does so more in retrospect. But it’s a slickly crafted and engaging film that begs rewatching to better appreciate its clever, detailed construction.

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