SXSW 2022- Could “Bodies Bodies Bodies” Be A24’s First Box-Office Smash Hit?: Film Review

Whether it’s Monopoly, charades, or spin the bottle, party games always have a way of reigniting old grudges between friends. But what if these “fun” activities suddenly turned deadly? That’s exactly what occurs in director Halina Reijn’s uproarious dark comedy, Bodies Bodies Bodies, a Mean Girls– inspired murder mystery that is sure to play like gangbusters to Gen Z audiences everywhere.

Bodies Bodies Bodies follows social outsider Bee (Maria Bakalova) as she attends a hurricane party at an opulent mansion as her girlfriend, Sophie’s (Amandla Stenberg) plus one. Without any wireless access to the outside world, Bee and the other party guests decide to play Bodies Bodies Bodies, a murder mystery party game. However, when someone literally turns up dead, backstabbings (both metaphorical and literal) and deep-seated hatreds are brought to the forefront of this friend group.

Bodies Bodies Bodies takes the standard narrative template of the murder mystery genre and flips it on its head, much like Rian Johnson did with Knives Out. Reijn keeps the audience on its toes with a plethora of shocking developments that keeps them guessing until the film’s closing moments.

Just like any murder mystery film though, the success of Bodies Bodies Bodies lies in its cast. Stenberg & Bakalova further prove themselves to be on the cusp of mega stardom. Meanwhile, relative newcomer Myha’la Herrold plays off her co-stars excellently as a vindictive former flame. Additionally, Reijn is one of the few directors to properly utilize Pete Davidson’s comedic schtick to full effect, while Lee Pace’s role as a laid-back vet with a secret is a refreshing change of “pace” for the mostly dramatic actor.

However, it is Rachel Sennott who makes off like Danny Ocean as she steals every scene she’s in. Sennott plays Alice, a sorority-girl type that is oblivious, superficially vain, and overly politically correct. Sennott’s performance, which seems inspired by Amanda Seyfried’s Karen (Mean Girls), is perfectly crafted and is the lifeblood of Bodies Bodies Bodies. Anecdotally, my screening laughed and cheered at nearly all her humorous lines and audibly sympathized with Alice when she shared her personal struggles.

Over the last decade, A24 has become widely recognized (especially by Gen Z) as tastemakers of contemporary “arthouse” films. Yet for all their acclaim, only one of their films has ever surpassed 50 million at the domestic box office (Uncut Gems). However, with its wide-appealing premise and inventive humor for young adult viewers, Bodies Bodies Bodies is likely to take audiences (and the box office) by storm when it releases later this summer.

The Silver Lining

Since Bodies Bodies Bodies is set during a hurricane that devastates the power gird, cinematographer Jasper Wolf has crafted a visual style that relies heavily on pockets of light that illuminate the endless darkness. Wolf and Reijn’s decision to have the actors largely act as light operators for one another (through the use of flashlights, headlamps, and glow sticks), makes the presence of light feel like a character in and of itself.

SXSW 2022 official selection, Bodies Bodies Bodies, releases in theaters this summer.

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