A strong hurricane should be enough reason to hit the panic button and prepare to be hunkered down for a day or two with enough food, water, and batteries but, when a string of murders is added to the recipe while tensions are at an all-time high, surviving each other becomes the perfect storm. For the characters in Halina Reijn’s English directorial debut Bodies Bodies Bodies, as long as the 7 who attend the hurricane party have enough drugs and alcohol, they can conquer the shallow, viciousness of what their friendships are when a closer look is examined.
The premise behind Bodies Bodies Bodies has been done many times over, Reijn isn’t looking to reinvent an already established wheel from a screenplay written by Sarah DeLappe and story by Kristen Roupenian however, another fresh take is gladly welcomed. Grouped as a horror/comedy, the former is way too farfetched of a genre to describe this Gen Z Agatha Christie esque narrative. Switch out horror for satire and the description is right on the money. In the midst of mass hysteria unfolding on screen between the remaining survivors / suspects, Alice (Rachel Sennott) proclaims she has body dysmorphia. The tension in that moment could be cut with a knife.
Or the kukri used to pop open a champagne bottle that puts the party in full swing.
What makes the outrageous line of dialogue meant to be a distraction land the way it does is due to Sennott’s performance and delivery. Coming off her previous film Shiva Baby, Sennott has a natural talent delivering such a piercing line. Body dysmorphia is a real disorder but it’s how Alice uses it in context against the backdrop of a possible serial killer stalking her group of wealthy influencer frenemies that sticks the landing of a satirical black comedy.
Following Bee (Maria Bakalova) and her brand-new girlfriend Sophie (Amandla Stenberg), the film opens up on the couple as the two affectionately lock lips for a few prolonged minutes. Following the dragged-out moment, the two head to David’s (Pete Davidson) parents’ manor bringing good spirits and zucchini bread. From there, no time is wasted as the group including Alice, her boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace), Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) and Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) proceed to get wasted and decide to play the titular party game. Sarah DeLappe’s screenplay quickly transitions from a carefree celebration to moments of intensity and tension.
Switching the tone keeps the screenplay from feeling distasteful but instead highlights its biggest strength. On the surface, these are people we all see on social media with millions of likes, hundreds of thousands of comments, and reposts. Without admitting it we all want to be these influencer types and admire to one day have that same notoriety but when the first dead body pops up, hidden below the politeness and pretentiousness are daggers waiting to be drawn. Teeth are barred and ugly truths are exposed showing the shallowness to a friendship in the digital age. “Jordan hate listens to your podcast Alice” is but one line of hateful revelations that are spoken into existence. These people despise each other deep down and the added tension and adrenaline of not understanding what’s happening exposes these feelings.
One by one, their numbers dwindle as more bodies are discovered around the mansion. And one by one, the remaining characters become more ferocious as they try to figure out who could be murdering their friend group. About ¾ of the way through, I came up with a theory about a possible ending. I’m not going to say if I was right or wrong, but DeLappe’s story comes with a pleasant twist that works surprisingly to the benefit of the cast, who all commit to their roles and have impeccable chemistry together, and the story at hand.
Earlier this year, the Hercule Poirot led Death on the Nile whodunnit released with a star-studded ensemble behind Kenneth Branagh’s direction. As a whole, the Agatha Christie adaptation fell flat, never building the steady amounts of tension and was overrun with melodrama that never quite achieves what Bodies Bodies Bodies does. Maybe it’s the recency of it all but, the latter is full of energy and life with the whodunnit murder mystery that isn’t reliant on a Poirot type character to constantly push the story along. Every event in Bodies unfolds naturally to the verisimilitude of this world as if you’re placed in the same situation with people you pretend to like.
Through all the toxicity, finding these characters likable comes with ease. Lifted by strong direction, a killer score by Disasterpeace and a small ensemble, Bodies Bodies Bodies takes the best aspects of the whodunnit genre and adds a bit of flavor to it. A sense of intimacy is strong right off the bat but grows in strength with each death. Somehow, these vain characters end up being likable due in part from their portrayals. Bodies Bodies Bodies is another shining example of having a fun time returning to theaters.
Screenplay By: Sarah DeLappe
Story By: Kristen Roupenian
Directed By: Halina Reijn
Music By: Disasterpeace
Cinematography: Jasper Wolf
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace, Pete Davidson
Release Date: August 5, 2022
Running Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%