‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ could stand to be meaner

Photo: A24

bodies bodies bodies it’s a slasher movie that begins with a social situation scarier than any gruesome death. bee (performed by Borat post film rising star Maria Bakalova) drives with his girlfriend, Sophie (Amandla Stenberg), to the festivities taking place at the family home of one of his childhood friends. The first warning signs come fast and furious: the relationship is only six weeks old, Sophie is fresh out of rehab and quickly makes declarations of love, the family home is actually a mansion, the reunion is a hurricane party where everyone will be on lockdown. . by the storm, and none of the attendees were informed that Sophie would be coming, much less bringing anyone. But what really gives her the creeps is the line Sophie drops as Bee goes through the social media accounts of the people she’s about to meet. “They are not as nihilistic as they seem on the Internet,” she insists.

That’s a threat meant to be a consolation, though it actually turns out to be a promise that bodies bodies bodies is unable to comply. The film, which was directed by Dutch actress and filmmaker Halina Reijn and written by Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian (of “Cat Person” fame), is a fun affair that aspires to the “wild” label without really earning it. Bring together the trendiest ensemble of the year: Stenberg and Bakalova join Pete Davidson, Industryis Myha’la Herrold, Lee Pace, Shiva baby star Rachel Sennott and Chase Sui Wonders, to play an ensemble of wealthy 20-somethings (and a 40-something Tinder find). But the cast’s appeal can’t change the fact that its members are playing incredibly bland targets instead of actual characters. As the bodies begin to pile up, there’s nothing to feel apart from a faint anticipation as to who will turn out to be behind the violence, though it’s also hard not to see the final reveal coming.

The house, which is remote yet appears to be a short drive from New York City, belongs to David (Davidson), a coke-snorting green bean who Sophie says was her preschool boyfriend before she found out he was gay. David is wrapped up in family money, and many of the other characters have activities instead of jobs. David’s fussy girlfriend, Emma (Wonders), is an actress whose main credit is appearing in a production of Hedda Gabler. Alice (Sennott) hosts a dodgy podcast, while everyone seems to have decided that her beefy older boyfriend, Greg (Pace), was in the military, though her relationship is even newer than Bee and Sophie’s. The intermittently hostile Jordan (Herrold) prides herself on being the only one in the group of friends who doesn’t come from money, though in one of the film’s best moments, she is teased for being upper-middle class. Bee, for her part, works at a video game store, and the social gap between her and the people around her is very noticeable.

But the situation could be more awkward if Bakalova was a little better; as an audience surrogate, she ends up being the film’s weak point, making Bee intensely internal without doing enough to convey her discomfort and her desperate desire to please her. As the unreliable Sophie, Stenberg fares much better, shining like the sun and then deflecting all that alluring attention. The more information the movie leaks about Sophie, the clearer it becomes that Bee would be smart to put as much distance as possible between her and her girlfriend, but the hurricane makes sure these people have nowhere else to go but the labyrinthine corridors of David’s. . cavernous place. Reijn makes the most of the location, roaming its rooms and hallways once the lights go out to facilitate some party shenanigans, with glow-in-the-dark accessories and iPhone lights and an old-fashioned flashlight all floating in the sudden darkness. . But when the storm knocks out the power forever and one of them turns up dead, these people who don’t really like each other begin to turn on each other.

There is a game that the characters play before starting the title game (which is better known as Mafia or Werewolf), and it involves going around in a circle and getting slapped by the person to your left before shooting. It’s a physical re-enactment of the cruelties everyone submits to in the name of having a good time, though the first veiled, then overt insults they hurl are never as sharp as they should be. When partygoers rant about how the word gas lighting has stopped making sense, or howling at being silenced, or screaming about how toxic or capable someone is being, the film doesn’t seem to be lampooning its characters’ privilege, or the way academic and therapeutic language has infiltrated in everyday language. . It feels like it’s written by Twitter itself, the characters channeling the modern dysfunction of social media with nothing to delineate them. No wonder it’s hard to worry when they start to die, it’s a relief more than anything else.

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