Bodies Bodies Bodies is a new horror comedy from A24 about a group of Gen Z twenty-somethings who gather in a house during a hurricane and play a party game called “bodies bodies bodies.” One person is selected as the killer, and the group takes turns guessing who’s responsible for play-acted murders. But when one member of the group ends up dead, the film turns into a brilliant mash-up of horror, comedy, mystery, and thriller all rolled into one.
Good whodunits like Knives Out work as a battle of wits between the film and the audience, and Bodies Bodies Bodies stays ahead of the most discerning audience member, who will likely be guessing about which person is the killer in the game and which person is the killer in real life throughout the film’s runtime.
The mystery works, the writing is smart, the characters are engaging, and there’s a lot to like about the performances, especially by the leads Amandla Strenberg, Maria Bakalova, and Myha’la Herrold. Reminiscent of The Big Chill and the 80’s Brat Pack films, Bodies Bodies Bodies captures the feel of a group of friends who know each other well enough to both love and hate each other.
However, at one point near the end of this film, there was a section in which the characters dropped a lot of Gen Z terms. It was as though the writers had a list of Twitter phrases that had to be worked into the dialogue as one character says she’s “triggered” and another preaches about mental health being “a really important thing.” Speculating whether or not there’s a gun in the house, one character says, “David may be [mean], but his politics are legit.” The shoe-horning of these terms made me question to what degree Bodies Bodies Bodies was satirizing its characters and by extension Gen Z. How much of the film is an honest reflection of Gen Z’s language, and how much is satire? And if the film is satire, then what’s the point?
That the film depicts the characters almost exclusively led by the lights of their phones echoes the kinds of unfair criticisms that have been leveled against Gen Z by older folks who don’t have to live under the same kinds of pressures today’s youths are subjected to. And that all the characters are rich and entitled problematizes their lip service to important issues like social justice and racial equity. The film doesn’t stand up to deeper scrutiny, and the broadly intellectual themes that undergird this film didn’t work for me
On the surface, though, as a whodunit/slasher/horror/comedy, Bodies Bodies Bodies works well, and I think those audiences who are interested in these elements will enjoy it.
2.5 out of Five Stars.