SXSW 2022: ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ is a Fun Twist on a Whodunit

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Bodies Bodies Bodies - But Why Tho

A good whodunnit can go a long way, and it can go even further when the characters are pushed to their breaking points and turn on each other. Directed by Halina Reijn, A24’s Bodies Bodies Bodies injects a unique brand of cocaine-fueled chaos into a whodunnit. Written by Kristen Roupenian, Sarah Delappe, Chloe Okuno, Joshua Sharp, and Aaron Jackson, the film stars Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, and Lee Pace.

When a group of rich 20-somethings (and Greg) plan a hurricane party at a remote family mansion, a party game turns deadly. When the game becomes a little too real, the group begins to tear each other apart. Outside of two people Bee (Maria Bakalova) and Greg (Lee Pace), who are significant others (that’s probably too strong a word, but one we’ll roll with), every other party-goer is a longtime friend. Sophie (Amandla Stenberg ) is the friend who has resurfaced after falling off the face of the Earth, Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) is the friend with a chip on her shoulder, Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) just wants everyone to love her, Alice (Rachel Sennott) is a vapid podcaster who shares everyone’s secrets, and David is a friend stuck in a love triangle.

Bodies Bodies Bodies gets its name from the game played within the film. This titular game involves a hidden killer that the group has to find by asking questions and accusing. While this game usually turns ugly for the friends because of how much they know about each other when the stakes get raised so do the accusations. While it’s easy at first to turn against the most obvious of suspects, Greg, the 40-something-year-old hooking up with Alice, when the group has to point the finger at each other, the past starts to bubble up.

The line of arguments change from “look at the evidence” to “you hurt me two years ago that is why you’re lying” and this is where the film hits its stride. While some of the dialogue doesn’t know if it’s critiquing TikTok videos and Gen Z or embracing them, the vitriol that flies between characters is damn good. The sharp transition from good friends griefing each other to just plain mean digs is a perfect match for the whodunnit format. The fear of being killed unearths all the secret anger that each friend kept bottled up tightly – throw in a lot of drugs, narcissism, and a complete inability to see past their petty issues and it’s all a recipe for controlled chaos.

To be honest, it’s clear that Bodies Bodies Bodies had a plan from the start. Like many whodunnits, the move from beginning to end has been mapped out by the film’s director and writers. But there is enough chemistry between the small cast of actors that allows them to add more powder to the keg each time before something explodes.

As the body count rises, it all gets more unhinged with each character digging deeper into their grievances with the others until there is nothing left to be said. Each body found is an explosion on any barrier the friends have in place to keep from hurting each other’s feelings with honesty, and as one by one the filters come down, it gets better.

While every character fires on all cylinders, the one who got the biggest laughs and all my anger whenever she spoke was Alice. Sonnett’s performance is both hilarious and annoying and completely undefeated. She is over the top, self-centered, and completely out of touch in a way that sells the film. She’s is a whole lot to handle but Alice makes the film for me, Sonnett’s success here, can’t be overstated.

But if Sonnett’s Alice is the loudest, the quietest Bee helps center the audience in this house full of very rich coked-out friends. Sophie’s girlfriend, she’s not rich and she’s uncomfortable in almost every setting she’s put in. She serves as the film’s anchor point, watching these people she doesn’t know just rip each other apart, and ultimately trying to stay alive with only herself (and to a lesser extent Sophie) to trust. There is a loneliness that Bakalova brings to Bee that works extremely well as she morphs from then one showcased as not adjusted or comfortable in this social situation to the only one with any sense.

Now, it must be pointed out that this horror-comedy is light on the horror and high on the comedy. Tampering expectations for this is fairly essential to enjoying the chaotic drug-filled whodunnit. But even with all the loud characters, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a tight film.

It’s all shot in one location with a small cast, and with minimal light. In fact, at the Q&A after the film’s World Premiere at SXSW 2022, the director revealed that the characters serve as the film’s light sources as well. With a power outage, their phones and flashlights become the way we see what’s happening and add another level of connection between the actors on the screen.

With a stellar twist ending, a strongly connected cast, and a lot of humor (even if it doesn’t all land) Bodies Bodies Bodies is a fun time. It’s a film that launches itself head-on into the chaos of entitled rich kids on drugs who are all just pretending to like everything about each other and it’s better for it.

Bodies Bodies Bodies had its world premiere at SXSW 2022 International Film Festival.


Bodies Bodies Bodies
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

With a stellar twist ending, a strongly connected cast, and a lot of humor (even if it doesn’t all land) Bodies Bodies Bodies is a fun time. It’s a film that launches itself head-on into the chaos of entitled rich kids on drugs who are all really just pretending to like everything about each other and it’s better for it.