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film review

Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders and Rachel Sennott star in Bodies Bodies Bodies.Erik Chakeen

  • Bodies Bodies Bodies
  • Directed by Halina Reijn
  • Written by Sarah DeLappe
  • Starring Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova and Pete Davidson
  • Classification R; 95 minutes
  • Opens in theatres Aug. 12

Critic’s Pick

The new horror comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies is the cinematic equivalent of a Twitter argument – but before you run screaming in the other direction, this is a recommendation. An energetic, cockeyed, bloody, and sometimes delightfully vicious skewering of Millennial culture – or, more accurately, what Instagram-less tsk-tsk’ers imagine millennial culture to be – director Halina Reijn’s new film exists not only to meet late-summer slasher expectations, but to ever so slightly subvert them.

An Agatha Christie mystery drenched in the neon-bright colours of a TikTok video gone to seed, Bodies Bodies Bodies follows a group of college friends who gather at the secluded mansion belonging to the parents of spoiled coke-head David (Pete Davidson). There’s the recovering addict Sophie (Amandla Stenberg), her shy new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova), the mistrustful Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), David’s insecure girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), ditzy Alice (Rachel Sennott), and finally Alice’s last-minute Tinder date, the decades-older mystery man Greg (Lee Pace).

As the group binge on booze, drugs, and empty-headed chatter that revels in insincere woke-ness, the mood gets darker and the rain outside hits heavier. After starting to play a fake-murder game called Bodies Bodies Bodies to lighten the mood, wouldn’t you know that a real dead body drops in their midst, the power goes out, and everybody starts to panic. Cue the personal grudges and sexual secrets spilling into view, plus a heavy reliance on the iPhone’s flashlight app.

The script of Bodies Bodies Bodies carefully balances bloodletting with social satire, and as the body count begins to rise and the whodunit mystery deepens, writer Sarah DeLappe and director Halina Reijn’s work clicks in place.Erik Chakeen

The script, based on a story by Kristen Roupenian (author of the viral Cat Person New Yorker short story from 2017) but rewritten by Sarah DeLappe, carefully balances bloodletting with social satire. When Emma starts complaining about being “gaslit” by David or when Alice defends herself for being an “ally” to Sophie during her many rehab stints, the first instinct is to roll your eyes: Kids, so much as these characters are kids with no responsibilities other than boosting their social-media views, don’t actually talk like that, do they?

But then as the body count begins to rise and the whodunit mystery deepens, DeLappe and Reijn’s work clicks in place. There is a purposeful distance to the film: We get a kick watching the bloody mayhem because it taps into our own “serves them right” mentality, us viewers safely ensconced in our one-generation-above superiority, even if we’re really just as young (but obviously wiser, natch) than the idiots running around here.

The talented, ultra-game cast pull the trick off nicely. Bakalova turns in a particularly intriguing performance that is the exact opposite in tone and tenor than her breakout work in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, while Shiva Baby star Sennott getting scarily close to embodying the dictionary definition of overprivileged brat-y-ness. Even a small appearance by the alt-comedy star Conner O’Malley works, his mere presence acting as its own kind of in-joke punchline.

All this, and Reijn’s film offers the bonus perk of seeing characters eagerly, repeatedly slap Saturday Night Live star/tabloid mainstay Davidson, whose petulant, grin-heavy performance suggests that the actor is perfectly aware of just how slappable his character (and own persona) might be. Let the bodies, as the kids might say, hit the floor.

Pete Davidson's petulant, grin-heavy performance suggests that the actor is perfectly aware of just how slappable his character (and own persona) might be.Gwen Capistran

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