While independent studio A24 does on occasion put out movies that qualify as straight-up horror, like Hereditary or this year’s X, typically their genre fare winds up feeling more horror adjacent. Bodies Bodies Bodies definitely fits that bill. While it does have moments of suspense and bloody violence, it’s really more of a social satire than a scary movie. Fortunately, it is good enough at both tones that fans of each should be very satisfied.
Working-class Bee (Maria Bakalova) arrives with her very-wealthy girlfriend Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) at the mansion of Sophie’s longtime friend David’s (Pete Davidson) family. The trio, along with David’s girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), their friends Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) and Alice (Rachel Sennott), and Alice’s new, older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace) are all gathering there to throw a party while the rest of David’s family is away and a hurricane bears down on the town. It is quickly established that while the young friends have known each other for some time, they don’t exactly all get along that well and are only too happy to stab each other in the back, so to speak.
The final member of the group, Max (Conner O’Malley), got into an altercation with David the night before and stormed off with the only other car, but the group is cagey about filling in Sophie and Bee with the details. As the night goes on and tensions simmer, they decide to play a game called “Bodies Bodies Bodies”, in which one of the participants is secretly assigned the role of “killer”, the lights are turned off, and the group scatters around the house while the “killer” stalks them. If they happen upon a “body” they are to shout out the name of the game, the lights will come on, and everyone will converge on their location to try and suss out who the “murderer” is, except for the “victim” who is now out. Basically, it’s a live-action version of recent video game hit Among Us.
But things quickly take a turn when the power goes out, one of the group is found dying from a knife wound on their throat and it becomes apparent that someone is taking the game far too seriously. When they try to get help they discover that the storm has knocked out all communication and that Sophie’s car won’t start so they hole up back inside and set about trying to determine who could be responsible. This in turn leads to all manner of pent-up secrets and resentments coming to light as the bodies begin to pile up around them.
Whenever the group is skulking around the darkened mansion, with only a flashlight or smartphone to illuminate the way forward, things do get suitably tense, no doubt aided by Disasterpiece’s perfectly-suited synth score. The core mystery of who could be the killer is also ably handled and will easily reel in viewers. But while Bodies Bodies Bodies is about those things, it also really isn’t, with much of its focus instead landing on sending up tropes about modern twenty-somethings and relationships in the digital age. None of these characters are very likable, save maybe for Bee (maybe), but thanks to smart writing by Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian and the note-perfect performances from the cast they are always entertaining to watch. There are fleeting moments when the movie falters a bit, and it’s hard to ignore that even though power is out the indoor racquetball court remains moodily lit (why would this room be the focus of emergency backup power as opposed to say, the kitchen?), but overall this is a smart, fun, rollercoaster ride of a thriller with an ending that is appropriate and unpredictable. ★★★★
RATED R FOR VIOLENCE, BLOODY IMAGES, DRUG USE, SEXUAL REFERENCES, AND PERVASIVE LANGUAGE.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor