Bodies Bodies Bodies

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

Bodies Bodies Bodies
dir Halina Reijn
scr Sarah DeLappe
prd Ali Herting, David Hinojosa
with Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha'la Herrold, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace, Conner O'Malley
release UK Jun.22 slf,
US 5.Aug.22
22/US A24 1h35

stenberg davidson pace
sundance london film fest

Is it streaming?

stenberg, bakalova, wonders and sennott
Gleefully mashing-up genres, this riotous black comedy takes the form of a slasher horror movie, and it's also packed with slapstick mayhem, interpersonal tension and social commentary. It's expertly assembled by the filmmakers and a seriously up-for-it cast to freak us out and make us laugh. But even more intriguing is that the movie pushes us to think about the nature of relationships for today's generation of young people.
When her friends plan an overnight party to ride out a hurricane, Sophie (Stenberg) turns up with her girlfriend Bee (Bakalova), whom everyone regards with some suspicion. But then Alice (Sennott) also brought an outsider along, her older boyfriend Greg (Pace). David (Davidson) is hosting the gathering at his enormous family home with his girlfriend Emma (Wonders), while Jordan (Herrold) is trying to stir up trouble between Bee and Sophie. With drugs and alcohol in play, they launch into a murder-in-the-dark game. Then the storm hits, the power cuts out and things turn genuinely deadly.
Comical even when things turn violent or angry, the film bristles with witty interaction between Generation Zers who don't hesitate to play identity cards to gain power in the group. It's mainly shot in close-up, which becomes even more intense when darkness falls and the only illumination comes from phones that have neither mobile service nor wifi. All of this adds to a rolling boil of panic with the discovery of each body. And because they know their friends' secrets, things quickly get ugly.

Each actor creates a distinctly complex character, spinning stereotypes on their heads with a mix of scripted and improvised dialog. Performances match the heightened tone, with emotional outbursts and electrified confrontations. All of this is seen through Bee's eyes as an outsider, and Bakalova is both open-faced and eerily opaque, the only person who doesn't deploy barbed teasing. With impeccable timing, the others are strikingly nasty, so uniformly intriguing that it's difficult to pick a standout.

Impressively, this also plays as a backhanded satire of American society, in which feelings are facts and victims claim the higher ground in an argument. Director Reijn puts the film into fast-gear from the start, then ratchets up the humour even as things get increasingly grisly. Screenwriter DeLappe places these characters into a wonderfully knotted group dynamic that's like a bomb waiting to go off. And cinematographer Jasper Wolf keeps the camera so tight that we can never look away. So it seems especially jarring that the film reveals so much about us.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 12.Jun.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall