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Photo: ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’
What happens when a group of friends gets together for an obnoxious house party, only to have the party get bloodier? From A24, the company behind other horror film phenomenons such as ‘Hereditary’ and ‘The Lighthouse,’ comes a fresh take on the slasher-whodunnit hybrid genre. Directed by Halina Reijn, ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ is a stellar horror comedy that thrives off of its eccentric characters, morbid humor, and modern world context. Starring a fresh array of rising and established talent, including Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, and Pete Davidson, and rounded off by Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Myha’la Herrold, and Lee Pace, the cast bounces off of one another perfectly in order to bring this friend group, and all their toxicities, to life (or, rather, death).
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The set-up is simple: a group of friends, still carrying all their past issues and dramas, get together to party at one of their remote houses during a hurricane. They play a game, Bodies Bodies Bodies, AKA Mafia, AKA Werewolf, which includes a “murderer” going around and “killing” other players, and everyone has to guess who that “murderer” is. But – surprise surprise – the game becomes real, and all those previous issues and arguments resurface as no one is an innocent player.
‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ – A New Classic for a New Generation
Slashers were at their most prominent in the 80s, and 1996’s iconic ‘Scream’ capitalized on the fusion of a classic slasher with a classic whodunnit murder-mystery plot. Most slasher films made today try to capture the aesthetics and settings of the 70s, 80s, or 90s to take audiences back to the time when the genre was at its most popular. ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ uses its modern Gen Z characters, dialogues, and set to further the story and breathe new life into the genre. The time corresponds to the film’s identity, and it’s refreshing to see horror approach a new generation and have that generation be so woven into the plot. When the trailer first dropped, confusion and excitement were stirred as the characters had lines like “you trigger me” and “you’re always gaslighting me.” Certain viewers perceived the slang as “embarrassing,” too “on-the-nose,” or too “over-the-top.” But the common use of generational terms elevates everything, and makes a film released in 2022 feel like it’s intended for an audience in 2022. This generation deserves a horror film to claim as their own.
Though the characters have their own layers of eccentricity and speak with slang that may be unfamiliar to some, they still feel very real. Any teen or twenty-year-old (and likely everyone else) can resonate with the group dynamics, the pressures of friendships, and the bottled plethora of unresolved issues. You never feel like the actors are putting on a performance. This is literally who the characters are and it feels natural. A lot of times when you watch media geared for this audience, it’s clearly written by someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be a teenager or young adult in the current world. Yet the screenplay by Sarah DeLappe, and the subsequent improvisations added by the performers and director, are fresh and current, and all too real. I have a feeling ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ will become a new classic for the current generation.
Horror & Comedy – a Masterful Blend
Horror is so wide and contains a bountiful amount of subgenres. One of the best blends has got to be horror comedies. There’s something so deranged and entertaining when a movie that is supposed to induce fear can also make you laugh. Everything is balanced out. In this film, the comedy, of course, stems from the characters. Rachel Sennott as Alice is definitely the standout, having many of the best lines. Sennott was able to make her character likable and fun to watch while still being vain and problematic. The horror elements also stemmed from the characters. There’s nothing supernatural within the set-up, it’s just people being people and bringing out the worst in themselves.
The story shows the dark and petty nature everyone is capable of just by being human. Tapping into a person’s “dark side” is nothing new, but the ways in which the story goes to highlight the individual problems each person faces and how they perceive those around them brings a nuanced viewpoint. And yet it is never bogged down as this intense depiction. Everything is still so entertaining and compelling, and much of that is due to its thrilling tone. There are just so many brilliant aspects this film has, which come together to make it as enjoyable as it is.
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You are so Toxic!
Being toxic is not like the catchy Britney Spears’ song. One of the biggest takeaways from the experience of watching ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ is how well it illustrated the toxicity of friend groups, specifically female friend groups. Girls have always been stereotyped as catty and superficial, which is a tragic stereotype far from many truths. However, certain settings and pressures can culminate into a toxic environment for everyone. Other classics, such as ‘Heathers,’ ‘Mean Girls,’ and ‘Jennifer’s Body,’ explore similar themes of how “friends” are not always friends, and there’s so much to unpack there. Girls know how to lift one another up, but they also know how to tear each other down. Not to mention the boys in the film, played by Pete Davidson and Lee Pace, add yet another layer to everything and explore the impact of relationships and toxic masculinity. It’s clear everyone in this film knew the story they were telling and the roles their characters play in order to create a vivid social commentary.
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The ending of the movie left me both satisfied and unsatisfied, strangely enough, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I’d already placed this film in my top new releases of 2022, despite the year not being over. I’d recommend this film to any young person, any horror comedy fans, and anyone who just likes a dose of drama. As a young adult in 2022 myself, I found so much to relate to and love within the execution of the story. ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ is worth the watch!
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Myha’la Herrold, and Lee Pace
Director: Halina Reijn
Writer: Sarah DeLappe
Story by: Kristen Roupenian
Producers: Sebo Bear-McClard, Tatiana Bears Fani Bernfeld, Lara Costa Calzado, Christine D’Souza Gelb, Sarah DeLappe, Ali Herting, David Hinijosa, Jacob Jaffke, Amandla Stenberg
Music by: Disasterpiece
Cinematographer: Jasper Wolf
Editors: Julia Bloch, Taylor Levy
By Rachel Beltowski
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Rachel Beltowski is a screenwriter and film critic, with a passion for character-driven stories and thought-provoking themes. From adventure to horror, Rachel enjoys stories which take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and allow for personal expression that would otherwise go silent. Rachel was drawn to The Hollywood Insider’s dedication to individual perspectives and positive world impacts. The Hollywood Insider has provided a foundation for Rachel to share her insights and leap into the center of the entertainment industry. Rachel hopes to bring a fresh voice into the world of film and television, and share her love of stories with others.