HomeMoviesBodies Bodies Bodies is an Old Fashioned Murder Mystery Disguised as a...

Bodies Bodies Bodies is an Old Fashioned Murder Mystery Disguised as a Slasher

Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders and Rachel Sennott in A24's BODIES BODIES BODIES.
Photo Courtesy of A24 Films.

Though the trailers tout Bodies Bodies Bodies as a slasher steeped in Gen Z and Millennial online discourse, the movie really an old fashioned locked-room mystery. When Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and Bee (Maria Bakalova) show up unannounced to David’s (Pete Davidson) family’s secluded mansion, tensions rise as the group of former friends and lovers are trapped together while a storm rages around them. However, their weekend of twisted games and simmering resentments takes a violent turn when one of them ends up dead. As the remaining friends try to find the mysterious killer, their personal dramas escalate even as the body count rises.

One of Bodies Bodies Bodies‘ biggest assets is its structure. Sarah DeLappe’s screenplay (from a story by “Cat Person” scribe, Kristen Roupenian) is filled with just as many legitimate clues as red herrings and it leaves the audience and characters constantly struggling to figure out who made the first kill. Did Jordan’s (Myha’la Herrold) boyfriend Max (Conner O’Malley) really leave after a fight the night before Sophie and Bee arrived or is his body just waiting to be discovered? Is Alice’s (Rachel Sennott) brand new, older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace) really as good-natured as he appears or are David’s jabs pushing him to do something drastic? Are David’s repeated declarations that his actress girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) is constantly performing her emotions true or is he just an asshole? Is Bee awkward simply because she’s been plunged into an established group of friends or is she hiding something that could pose a threat to the group?

Each question and more are answered throughout the film’s runtime and much of the its joy comes from watching how DeLappe and director Halina Reijn deliver on various set-ups. When Bee accidentally leaves a light on in Sophie’s car, we know that one careless act will be part of the reason the group can’t flee when bodies start hitting the ground. When Alice mentions that Greg is a “vet”, it sets up a capacity for violence in the group’s mind that plays a crucial role in one of the film’s best sequences. And while the way the film subverts our expectations in exploring these potential clues keeps the audience engaged and thinking, it’s the performances that ultimately allow Bodies Bodies Bodies to work so well.

Though each performer manages to bring a level of truth to their characters, they’re playing types rather than real people. Bee gives Final Girl energy from the start, the quiet suggestion of trauma and her watchful intensity when things start to get bloody projecting Sharni Vinson in You’re Next vibes. Sure, Bee has secrets, but Bakalova also makes her seem like the sincerest person in the group and we root for her despite any red flags her behavior raises.

One of the film’s best dynamics, though, is between Davidson and Pace, who both feel like they’re playing with their online personas. At one point, David explains that his biggest asset is that “I look like I fuck,” echoing the BDE discussion Davidson himself helped spark a few years ago. Yet David is threatened by big, beautiful, emotionally evolved Greg, who feels like the embodiment of the tanned, carefree version of Pace Twitter loves to ogle every few months.

Perhaps best of all, though, is Sennott as Alice, the somewhat ditzy party girl who is having too much fun to acknowledge how tense everyone is. From the moment Alice says of Greg, “He’s a libra moon, that says a lot,” we know exactly who she is and Sennott consistently draws some of the film’s biggest laughs. However, Sennott may also be the only actor in the film who never loses control of the film’s heightened, internet discourse-inflected dialogue.

Though DeLappe and Reijn are working in the murder mystery genre, Bodies Bodies Bodies is really a send-up of Gen Z and Millennials. These characters may be able to discuss their “privilege” or “triggers” in casual conversations, but at heart, they’re actually narcissists and it’s their self-obsession and cruelty to their supposed friends that really puts them in danger. While much of the film deftly balances the social satire with the mystery, the film’s climax is unfortunately an orgy of buzzwords so ham-fisted, it nearly negates all the careful and clever work that precedes it. Those already disposed to laugh at younger generations will likely find some joy in that scene, but there’s a smugness in the filmmaking there that falls into the very self-regard the film critiques in its characters.

Still, while Bodies Bodies Bodies may stumble just before the finish line, it has enough strengths to keep itself from totally imploding. From its clever twists to its enjoyable performances, it’s a slasher with a surprisingly dark sense of humor. Just don’t be too disappointed when it reveals it’s not as clever as it thinks.

Bodies Bodies Bodies opens in theaters Friday.

Marisa Carpico
Marisa Carpico
By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.

Most Recent

Stay Connected