When it was released in 1996, Scream was a game-changer that reinvigorated the slasher and horror generally. While slasher-comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies isn’t in the same position to have that impact, it certainly shares some DNA with Wes Craven’s classic. Based on a story of the same name by Kristen Roupenian, director Halina Reijn and writer Sarah DeLappe have re-imagined the slasher to tell their own darkly funny story. There’s also a young, buzzworthy cast on hand. Did we mention that this yet another A24 release that’s already earned critical praise?
When Sophie arrives at her childhood friend David’s family mansion for a ‘hurricane party’ with her quiet girlfriend, Bee, there’s immediately tension. No one knew Sophie was coming – after all, she never responded to the group text. And her ex-girlfriend, Jordan, is immediately suspicious of Bee. When the group decides to play a ‘guess the killer’ inspired game called ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’, however, things go horribly wrong. One member of the group turns up dead, their throat cut, it casts suspicion on everyone else. Someone has a grudge and they’re taking the game seriously.
Bodies Bodies Bodies Delivers Some Suspense Amidst a Lot of Social Satire
On the surface, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a horror movie that adopts the basic slasher formula. Director Halina Reijn knows the look and feel of the subgenre and maximizes the isolated setting and background storm to craft some atmosphere and suspense. If it’s a slasher movie in principle, Bodies Bodies Bodies is less interested in actual ‘slashing’ and more focused on the mystery. In this regard, Reign sets up a couple of good jumps, but seems more interested in drawn-out suspense. As the bodies begin to literally pile up, Reijn pushes you to the edge of your seat as tensions increase and uncertainty increases. That is, Bodies Bodies Bodies gets the most out of its central mystery and the ensuing stand-offs.
If it’s a slasher movie in principle, Bodies Bodies Bodies is less interested in actual ‘slashing’ and more focused on the mystery.
While Bodies Bodies Bodies adopts the slasher formula – and bodies do crop up – it’s light on the explicit gore that’s historically defined the subgenre. Instead, writer Sarah DeLappe emphasizes the dark humor and social satire of Kristen Roupenian’s story. And the satire here feels spot on. Something about pairing the ‘And then there were none’ narrative to a skewering of the performative nature of social media adherents feels perfect. DeLappe’s screenplay throws around all too familiar buzzwords – ally, gaslighting, triggered – while peeling away the ‘filters’ hiding its characters’ true natures. The thriller’s final reveal makes for a simple twist, but it works so well.
Bodies Bodies Bodies Features a Buzzworthy Cast Delivering Sharp Dialogue
There’s a relatively big cast on hand for the ‘hurricane party’ in Bodies Bodies Bodies. Of course, it’s a slasher movie – even if it’s light on the slashing – so a body count is something of a prerequisite. Yet Bodies Bodies Bodies sets itself apart from less horror movies by ensuring each of its characters feels like a living person. Specifically, Reijn and DeLappe take the time to introduce their characters and allow the cast to fill and distinguish the roles. Casual audiences will immediately recognize Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson. Though it’s a smaller role Davidson actually impresses, showing a bit of range with a character who’s essentially a goof. And Maria Bakalova reminds us why she impressed critics and audiences in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.
Yet Bodies Bodies Bodies sets itself apart from less horror movies by ensuring each of its characters feels like a living person.
Yet if there’s a breakout performance it has to be Rachel Sennott who steals every scene in which she has dialogue. Her line delivery is rapid-fire and hilariously flippant while perfectly encapsulating the heart of the thriller’s satire. Marvel and The Hobbit alum Lee Pace stands out in all the right ways as the much older boyfriend of one of the group’s members. Both Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games, The Hate You Give) and Myha’la Herrold bring plenty of intensity and snark to their roles. Much of the thriller’s edge comes courtesy of Stenberg and Herrold who we’ll hopefully see in more features in the near future.
Bodies Bodies Bodies Appropriates the Slasher Formula for a Clever
Like Scream was in the 1990s, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a hip and sharply written update on the slasher formula. Though she doesn’t lean quite as heavily into the horror elements, Reijn certainly crafts some suspenseful moments, effectively using the storm to create a feeling of isolation. But it’s the ‘storm’, mystery, and biting satire inside the film’s mansion-setting that makes Bodies Bodies Bodies such a standout slasher. DeLappe’s adaptation of Kristen Roupenian’s story has plenty to say about Gen-Z culture. Each character feels fully realized and the performances are uniformly excellent. The result is one of the freshest feeling slashers in recent memory.