17th Jun2022

Sundance London 2022: ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Lee Pace | Written by Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian | Directed by Halina Reijn

A murder mystery game turns deadly in this terrific Agatha Christie-style Gen Z slasher farce from actress-turned-director Halina Reijn. Darkly funny, superbly acted and razor-sharp, it’s one of the horror highlights of the year.

Bodies Bodies Bodies opens with new twenty-something couple Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and Bee (Borat Subsequent Movie Film‘s Maria Bakalova) arriving at the mansion house of a rich friend (Pete Davidson, as David) for a hurricane party, on the eve of a big storm. Other guests include Sophie’s hostile ex Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), David’s aspiring actress girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), podcaster Alice (Shiva Baby’s Rachel Sennott) and her hook-up, forty-something outsider Greg (Lee Pace), who she’s only known a few days.

Tensions escalate within the group almost immediately, as despite everyone being in the same so-called friend group (with the exception of outsiders Bee and Greg), no-one seems to actually like each other very much. And when the titular murder mystery game (one of those lights-out, touch-to-kill, guess-the-murderer type things) ends in an actual death, a frenzy of finger-pointing and suspicion erupts within the remaining friends.

The script, co-written by Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian, cleverly shapes the framework of an Agatha Christie whodunnit around modern, 21st Century Gen Z twenty-somethings, expertly skewering social media-savvy self-obsession in the process. The results are frequently both cringe-making (particularly if you have friends with podcasts) and laugh-out-loud funny.

Bodies Bodies Bodies is also extremely astute when it comes to the dynamics of friendship groups, exploiting built-up resentments, betrayals and petty grievances (like never contributing to the group chat) for maximum tension. Similarly, the fact that two of the group are outsiders places both Bee and Greg in a perilous position, with the audience also unsure as to whether they can be trusted.

The performances are spot-on throughout. Stenberg – the film’s ostensible star – is superb, delivering a performance that’s not quite as sympathetic as it initially seems, while Baklava (whose point-of-view as an outsider is closest to that of the audience) is also full of surprises. In addition, Herrold and Sennott both deliver stand-out turns, the former seething with barely concealed anger and the latter a masterclass in comic timing by way of a lack of self-awareness.

Reijn’s direction is assured throughout, building suspense in a way that disguises key plot points. It would be unfair to say any more about the story, but suffice it to say, the ending is chef’s kiss perfect – indeed, Agatha Christie herself would be proud.

In short, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a thoroughly entertaining, deliciously twisted horror farce that demands to be seen with as big an audience as possible. Try and catch it before the inevitable rush of spoiler-heavy memes and gifs.

**** 4/5

Bodies Bodies Bodies was the surprise screening at this year’s Sundance London Film Festival.


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