‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ Is An Outrageous Satirical Look At A Chaotic, Quick-moving Generation – Review
[By Diego Andaluz]
Throughout the past five years, Generation Z has become somewhat of a challenging subject for entertainment creatives to tackle. As the first generation to grow up with the internet as a constant presence throughout their developmental stages, they have become interesting subjects that creatives examine through lenses of different genres to varied results. Despite their (mostly impressive) quality, films that cover that ground have often tended to exhibit a narrow focus, zeroing in on specific traits while never fully showcasing the true, multifaceted nature of what could be known as the “Gen Z experience.” However, with Bodies Bodies Bodies, Halina Reijn has done just that, delivering a genre-bending film that perfectly encapsulates the Gen Z experience to impressive results.
Driving up to a house party hosted by her wealthy friend David (Pete Davidson), Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) calms her girlfriend Bee’s (Maria Bakalova) anxieties about meeting her friends for the first time. As a recovering addict estranged from what used to be her close circle of friends, Sophie harbors similar anxieties but remains silent about them. Upon their unannounced arrival at the party, they’re welcomed by the group, although some still harbor animosity towards Sophie for her past. When a storm hits and the group is forced inside, they attempt to let bygones be bygones and decide to play Bodies Bodies Bodies, a mafia-like party game. With clashing personalities and high emotions, the game quickly goes south when the group gets into a verbal spat and disbands for the night. Yet, when a dead body is found, the stakes get real as the survivors rush to figure out who the killer is before they suffer a similar fate.
Beyond the initial reveal, what follows is a twisted, unpredictable, and sharply comedic rollercoaster that keeps one on their toes from start to finish. As Bodies Bodies Bodies’ most significant asset, Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian’s screenplay shines by infusing a gripping mystery with hilarious social commentary brought forth by the interactions between increasingly unlikeable characters. A brilliant tonal balancing act, DeLappe and Roupenian masterfully intertwine bursts of comedy and horror, overlapping intense moments that will leave audiences laughing out loud yet shocked at the events unfolding on screen. While there are passages of downtime that lack the required emotional impact, the script’s inherently subversive nature that falls directly in line with the film’s satirical viewpoint of Generation Z helps it regain narrative momentum when needed.
With many dialogue-driven, combative moments between colorful characters at odds with each other, the script is brought to life by an array of performances that deftly tackle the generation’s idiosyncrasies. With the relationship between Stenberg’s Sophie and Bakalova’s Bee as the emotional core of the film, it leaves room for everyone around them to indulge in comedic turns that occasionally dip into mania, thriving in their painful lack of self-awareness to entertaining results. As the aloof Greg, Lee Pace shines in a calm yet endearingly eccentric performance. At the same time, Myha’la Herrold’s turn as a high-strung control freak, Jordan, gradually goes from grounded to unhinged spectacularly. Davidson and Chase Sui Wonders’ performances as insecure individuals in a dysfunctional relationship are compelling catalysts for the film’s plot. At the same time, Rachel Sennott steals the show as the overdramatic, clout-hungry Alice. While tonally spread throughout a vast range of emotions, director Halina Reijn brings all these performances together by expertly balancing them out, showing a solid talent for directing actors while smartly drawing out tension with a subtle visual flair in collaboration with cinematographer Jasper Wolf.
Despite the film’s narrative brilliance, it is not immune to structural shortcomings. Upon entering the final third, it approaches and launches into a seemingly never-ending climax. It becomes a non-stop barrage of reveals that, while thrilling at first, soon begin to seem somewhat convoluted and pointless. Certain reveals render others moot in a matter of minutes, devaluing the impact of those turns and making them feel weightless and borderline parodic.
Once it reaches its end, those structural complaints all fade away. Why? A payoff so clever that one won’t see it coming but is ideally in tune with the message the film is trying to deliver. Letting one forgive the majority of its shortcomings, with that final turn, Bodies Bodies Bodies cements itself as an outrageous satirical look at a chaotic, quick-moving generation, serving as the definitive depiction of Generation Z in entertainment.