Many films try to be modern. Whether it’s with an over-wrought use of social media and relevant technology, or with lingo that feels cringy and forced, there has been a heavy dose of faux-current filmmaking lately that generally lands somewhere in the land of mediocrity or forgottenness. At the same time, there’s a revival of the whodunit? genre with films like “Death on the Nile” and “See How They Run” in a post-“Knives Out” world.
At some point, it felt inevitable that this style and genre would eventually clash into a film that would either be zany and fun (if in the right hands) or a catastrophe. Leave it to A24 to string together a perfect cast and crew for their 2022 release “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” which may go down as the best iteration of both of these film categories this year.
Now there may be quite a generational gap with “Bodies Bodies Bodies” – one that sure made it a decisive film when it first dropped amongst critics. It is incredibly winking and self-deprecating with its commentary on class and wealth amongst a younger generation, mainly because it’s being told through the lens of a handful of rich 20-somethings. But it mixes this delicate commentary with a cast that knows exactly what type of movie they’re in.
The film stars Amandla Stenberg and Maria Bakalova as a couple reuniting with a group of friends at a remote mansion for the weekend. When a hurricane strikes and their innocent party game “Bodies Bodies Bodies” goes horribly wrong, the friends begin to accuse and question each other in the classic whodunit? narrative style.
Perhaps “Bodies Bodies Bodies” greatest strength is in its cast because beyond Stenberg and Bakalova, there’s a handful of inviting and promising performers, including Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, and boyfriends Lee Pace and Pete Davidson. It’s a pretty stellar group of actresses and actors that seemingly self-parody this film just by being in it.
Stylistically and visually, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is a real treat. The scenes are lush and vibrant, and the color design for this film is excellent. As all A24 projects go, this film finds its pocket early on and sticks to it. Even with a narrative that can feel generic at this point, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” excels at amplifying and hyper-intensifying the world around its main plotline.
Characters are obvious caricatures of the smarmy, ingenuine and “fake” millennial culture that streams through social media and online culture. But there’s enough sincerity and love for the cast that it doesn’t feel as if director Halina Reijn hates the set of characters she’s working with in the same way that her contemporaries do (the Coen brothers are particularly notorious and great at presenting their harsh feelings towards their protagonists).
Tonally, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is an extremely tough film to pull off by Reijn and co-screenwriters Kristen Roupenian and Sarah DeLappe, but they manage to land the plane in a film that feels naturally satirical, yet sympathetic and self-loving. Even at its tensest moments, the film juggles comedy and commentary at a highly successful rate – a quality that even the biggest blockbusters struggle with at times.
‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ Verdict
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” lands quite well for me in the same way that contemporary programming like “Euphoria” does – because style and substance clash to create a palette of ideas easy to conceptualize and accept as a younger moviegoer. Many films try to relate to millennials and Gen Z-ers, but they come off insincere and preachy. “Bodies Bodies Bodies” comes off natural and timely, and it makes it one of the best horror films of 2022.
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