Bodies Bodies Bodies SXSW Review: Rich Gen-Z Brats Get Dead In Horror Comedy From Director Halina Reijn

Imagine if the seven deadly sins were wealthy gen-z’rs and threw a house party. Now at said party, imagine each of them was high, drunk, and in such a deranged and disconnected state they wouldn’t even know what planet they were operating on. This is what viewers can expect from Halina Reijn’s first English feature film, Bodies Bodies Bodies, which had its world premiere at SXSW 2022. Based on a short story “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian and written by Sarah DeLappe, this movie is about when seven people party in a mansion and find out what happens when their game gets out of control. Hence, they stop being polite and start dying. 

There’s a storm brewing overhead, and a crew of rich kids is stuck in a mansion. They have everything they need to survive the night: food, electricity, running water, and more drugs than they know what to do with. The gangs all go in with Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova), who is meeting Sophie’s best friend David (Pete Davidson) for the first time. Also in attendance is his girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) and their two friends Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) and Alice (Rachel Sennott). To round out the gaggle of party people is Alice’s much older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace). These not-too-smart individuals are irritating and incompatible at every level as friends.

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As night comes on, and the powders and alcohol begin to flow, the group decide to play Bodies Bodies Bodies. The rules are the game are fairly simple:

  • One player is designated the murderer.
  • The lights go out.
  • A victim gets tapped on the shoulder who must get on the ground and play dead.
  • Everyone tries to guess who the killer is.

The game goes well until the girls witness a bloody sight just as the storm comes in, and the lights goes out permanently. This gaggle of friends must work together and survive the night. It’s the only way to find out if the murderer is someone on the outside or one of their own. Combine that with massive amounts of drugs, alcohol, paranoia. It’s a receipt for catastrophe. But that’s what they’ve manifested in this weekend mansion getaway turned labyrinth of mystery with whodunnit hijinks that air on the side of comedy more than horror.

Now that everyone is a suspect, who seems the most guilty? The blame shifts back and forth within the group to disorient and confuse the audience. One of them could be a killer, all of them could be, or none of them are. You just don’t know until the end reveal, which is so hilariously bleak, there is no conceivable way these characters can recover from the emotional damage they’ve endured. Thank goodness for this rambunctiously talented cast. Were it not for them, the experience of watching wouldn’t be worth watching.  

Even though no one character is more important to the movie than the other (as all characters are on equal footing), Sennott stands out. As the only professional comedian in the ensemble, she’s perfected her sense of comedic timing. Sennott also understands how to deliver her lines in a way that garners belly-aching laughs from the viewer. Each actor their own style that brings a varied flavor to the film, which makes the cast is a joy to watch, even if their characters are insufferable.

Spoiled rich brats who have been trauma bonding for too long have to witness their bestie circle tumble like a house of cards. That’s the real horror behind DeLappe’s screenplay, not the blood and guts. While the narrative and plotting aren’t always tight, Bodies Bodies Bodies serves as more of a warning on what can happen when you’re not honest about the company you keep and what happens when everyone in your friend group is toxic, including yourself.

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