[review by JA Kerswell]
BODIES BODIES BODIES is another satire on modern life that utilises the basic slasher framework; where characters are stabbed with sharp implements and sharper tongues. Often intriguing and frequently hilarious it's not without its problems. Based on the real game Body Body - often played at slumber parties - where someone is the 'killer' and 'kills' by tapping others when the lights go out. It's a variation of the British game called Murder in the Dark. Which may have been a better title for this film, as much of the action takes place on a near black screen - which often makes for something of a frustrating viewing experience.
|It's all fun and larks until someone suggests a party game in BODIES BODIES BODIES!|
A group of rich twenty-somethings meet up at a remote mansion ahead of a hurricane for a party. Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and her new girlfriend, Bee (Maria Bakalova), attend, but the other guests seem somewhat surprised they have turned up. It is clear there are some tensions among the group even before the hurricane hits. During a flurry of alcohol and cocaine, Sophie suggests they play the title game - despite another of the group warning: "This game always gets very ugly." As the storm rages outside the power goes out; cutting the lights and isolating them from the outside world. But it seems someone is taking the game too literally when one of their number is found outside with their throat cut wide open ...
BODIES BODIES BODIES benefits from a razor sharp script by Sarah DeLappe, that not only lampoons many modern social conventions it also takes aim at the hysteria and bad decisions that can arise from misinformation. It couldn't feel any more current. One character comes under suspicion for their capacity for violence because they were mistakenly believed to be an army veteran - when it turns of they were actually a veterinarian's assistant! Much like the similar - and arguably more successful - SISSY (also 2022) it examines what happens when the self-obsessed are faced with a murderer on the loose. Like that film, one of the characters here turns off the news in an effort to escape depressing world events - only to find themselves confronting something even worse closer to home. The film is unusual in that most of its running time has women being toxic to each other (a theme also explored in SISSY, which is also by a female director). The characters regularly stop to take each other to task over some perceived slight. "You're silencing me!" moans one. Whilst one calls out another: "I can't believe you are making this about you!", when she chooses to disclose she has body dysmorphia in the middle of the mayhem. There is very little sisterhood on display here.
|When a killer is on the loose friendships are tested to the limit ...|
The film uses the concept of the 'old dark house' perhaps a little too literally. Many scenes are lit just from neon jewellery or the lights of mobile phones rendered otherwise useless by the lack of wifi or 5G. Whilst it works for the central concept of making life or death decisions when characters can't see the whole picture, it does mean that viewer is quite literally kept in the dark for much of the running time. However, it arguably does make for a disorienting experience, which does set the film up for its clever ending.
BODIES BODIES BODIES is directed by Halina Reijn, (in her English-language debut), who is better known as an actress in her native Holland. Reijn replaced original choice for director Chloe Okuno (who made the excellent Euro serial killer thriller THE WATCHER (2022) with Maika Monroe). It was filmed around Chappaqua, New York in May 2021. Interestingly, the film started off as less of a satire and more a straight ahead slasher movie based on the original script by Kristen Roupenian. In Roupenian's original draft the film was due to take place in a snow storm rather than a hurricane. The film was in pre-production for A24 from 2018 when Roupenian's spec script was optioned before being largely rewritten by deLappe.
BODIES BODIES BODIES is ultimately an uneven experience, but not without its charms and merits. Just pray for a back up generator next time.
female: 3 / male: 2
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