Bodies Bodies Bodies

Bodies Bodies Bodies looks like a horror movie on the surface, and to a degree it is. Bloodied corpses litter the screen. Characters spend the majority of the time in fear. A killer is on the loose. Horror, right? Yes, but more accurately, this is a dark comedy whose satiric point only becomes crystal clear in the final 60 seconds. I enjoyed the film while I was watching it. Thinking about it afterward makes me eager to see it again, since I know where it's headed. A second viewing would allow for full appreciation of the way it carries out a rather ingenious plot.

Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) is Bee, a recent college graduate in a hot-and-heavy relationship with Sophie (Amandla Stenberg). A hurricane is coming, so they head to the huge family home of Sophie's best friend David (Pete Davidson) for a party designed to let everyone ride out the bad weather together. Also in attendance are David's actress girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), podcaster Alice (Rachel Sennot), Alice's older new boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace), and hot-tempered Jordan (Myha'la Herrold). Booze and drugs flow freely.

The group decides to start a round of a role-playing game called "Bodies Bodies Bodies" that involves one participant randomly being chosen as a murderer and stalking the others in the dark. During the game, the hurricane knocks out the power completely and, lo and behold, members of the gang start being murdered for real. Is the killer Max, the guy who stormed out after a fight with David? Or has one of the longtime friends decided to turn against the others for some reason? In asking those questions, friction between the characters comes out. Bee and Sophie also have to wonder about each other.

On the horror side, Bodies Bodies Bodies doesn't really try to be scary. It does, however, build suspense from not knowing who the slayer is. At points, you think one person is the likely culprit, then the next death occurs and you change your mind, fingering somebody else instead. Director Halina Reijn nicely keeps viewers off balance that way, placing them in the shoes of the frantic characters. A very satisfying payoff follows all the mayhem. Guessing how the scenario will resolve itself is not as easy as it seems.

Comedically, there are many surprisingly big laughs here. Sarah DeLappe's screenplay mocks the unfailingly politically-correct attitudes of Generation Z. When someone asks if David has guns in the house, Sophie seriously replies that he may be a jerk but “his politics check out.” Sharp-edged dialogue of that sort runs throughout the picture. With the exception of Bee, who's kind of an outsider, everyone in the movie is self-absorbed and offended whenever anybody else dares to make a statement they don't like. Bodies Bodies Bodies is, at the core, a satire about bored, rich kids who only feel happy when they think they're being victimized.

All the actors are terrific, giving vivid performances. Stenberg and Bakalova are the standouts, bringing a combination of passion and tension to the Sophie/Bee romance. Bodies Bodies Bodies needed to do a slightly better job establishing the rules of the titular game. Given that the plot revolves around the game essentially happening for real, a more thorough, less rushed set-up would have carried the idea across the finish line. Aside from that minor issue, the movie is great fun, as well as a pretty shrewd skewering of the “everything has to be about me, all the time” mindset.

out of four

Bodies Bodies Bodies is rated R for violence, bloody images, drug use, sexual references and pervasive language. The running time is 1 hour and 34 minutes.