Well, Happy Halloween boils and ghouls, as they say (and by “they”, I mean John). As I close out my batch of Shocktober reviews, it seems as though after doing a Blumhouse movie, I also couldn’t go without reviewing an A24 film when talking about the state of modern horror. While I’m not sure Bodies Bodies Bodies is the most typical A24 horror movie, since it’s not nearly as weird as many of their other offerings, it still has the sharp look and off-kilter quirks you’d expect. Also, while it perhaps does play into a lot more traditional tropes than the recent spate of arthouse horror movies that have cropped up over the last few years, it does have its share of unique touches to offer the genre.
Bodies Bodies Bodies begins with a couple, Bee and Sophie (Maria Bakalova and Amandla Stenberg) arriving at a mansion where their mostly twentysomething friends have already been hanging out and partying for a day or two. They’ve gathered intentionally, as a hurricane is expected to rage during the oncoming night. After getting very intoxicated, they play a drinking game called Bodies Bodies Bodies. Before the game is through, one of the girls at the gathering’s much older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace) goes to bed before everyone else. The group then gets into an argument in the middle of the game before the power in the house goes out. While trying to find a way to turn the power back on, they find that the cantankerous David (Pete Davidson) is dead, having had his throat slashed by a machete he’d been carrying around throughout the night.
The group then becomes paranoid about who could’ve possibly killed David. They first point to Greg, since he wasn’t present when David was killed and no one else knows him that well, not even his girlfriend Alice (Rachel Sennott), who has only been dating him for a few weeks. In a moment of confrontation, Greg ends up getting killed, which leads to a series of various arguments and accusations that the remaining girls hurl at each other while trying to weed out who the killer is. We also get to know a little bit about these characters, who have clearly known each other for a while and have plenty of grievances to air with each other in addition to the suspicions that they’re the killer in the house.
First off, I’ll just say that though I don’t want to spoil it, the ending really made this movie for me. I was thinking that this was a three-star movie for pretty much its entire duration, but when the twist at the end started to reveal itself, I instantly liked it a bit better. It’s the kind of ending that I honestly should have seen coming, but considering the number of times that we’ve seen these types of cabin-in-the-woods slasher movies, I guess my brain was trained to not expect anything that creative in revealing who the killer was.
That said, I don’t think the ending erases the unevenness of a lot of Bodies Bodies Bodies. For most of the movie, I wasn’t all that hooked into finding out the mystery at the heart of it, probably because I just didn’t care about these characters that much. This was perhaps by design, since the movie clearly wants to call the characters out on their shit, since they’re all rich kids who don’t seem to have anything better to do than tear into each other, even when their lives are at stake. But I just feel like the movie could’ve done a better job in presenting these characters’ relationships, since I didn’t start to get a sense of them until the second half of the movie. This also could’ve been intentional, since it adds to the audience having to be suspicious of everyone onscreen, since we don’t know any of them that well. But I just feel like there could’ve been a way of making things more dramatically satisfying, while also juggling the story’s horror elements.
Still, I did like scenes of the characters squabbling amongst themselves, since they got at a more satirical tone of poking fun at these types of spoiled narcissists. However, while the movie is often quite funny, I wish that it had learned into being a horror-comedy a bit more often. The horror elements are fine, and I think director Halina Reijn does a lot visually despite the limitations of the movie being all set in one location. But to me, the overall execution feels a little sloppy, which still feels fairly forgivable when the movie does a good job of capturing the messiness of a bunch of catty zoomers roped into a bad situation that they only seem capable of making worse.