BODIES BODIES BODIES

★★

A BLOODY SLOG THROUGH INTERNET SATIRE

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Ashley Teresa
21st August 2022

There's nothing more frustrating than a film with a promising concept that doesn't live up to its full potential. 'Bodies Bodies Bodies', the new buzz movie from cool-kid-favourite distributor A24, promises a biting satire of Generation Z and their inability to get the hell off their phones and a future cult-classic slasher, but fails to truly deliver on either front.

Sophie (Amandla Stenberg, 'Dear Evan Hansen') is gearing up to make a dramatic social splash for the ages: she's fresh out of rehab and seeing her friends for the first time in months, with her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova, 'The Bubble'). However, Sophie's arrival at her best friend David's (Pete Davidson, 'The Suicide Squad') mansion for a hurricane party – a thing that rich people do, apparently – doesn't run as smoothly as she or Bee would've hoped. After an afternoon of drinking and subtle hints at group tension before the storm sets in, they decide to play Bodies Bodies Bodies, a variation on Mafia, where a victim plays dead and the survivors must deduce who the killer is. However, when the super-rich kids start turning intoactual victims, one by one, old conflicts bubble up and the group must confront the idea that maybe they are not as close as they once were.

'BODIES BODIES BODIES' TRAILER

To its credit, 'Bodies' nails the dialogue of its 20-something characters perfectly. There's just enough eye-rolling psychologist talk - a jargon notoriously co-opted primarily by white, young, rich women on the internet - to make the characters feel real... and just enough tearing down of this kind of talk to keep the film from becoming unbearable. A particular standout is Rachel Sennott ('Shiva Baby'), whose shrill whine perfectly captures and lambasts her Alice, an aspiring podcaster taking herself way too seriously for her own good. The stakes feel genuine too, and the film's most gripping moments are watching Sophie and her friends turn on each other as the victim list rises and the potential culprit list dissipates. Many may complain about how dark most of the film is, but a power outage, coupled with close up shots of the young women lit only by their phone flashlights or glowsticks, makes for a claustrophobic experience not unlike that of 'The Blair Witch Project', turning David's huge mansion into a genuine hellscape where anyone could be hiding around the next corner.

Unfortunately, for every element 'Bodies' nails, there's an element it completely fumbles, mainly in the use of its cast.

Unfortunately, for every element 'Bodies' nails, there's an element it completely fumbles, mainly in the use of its cast. It's a danger of the small-cast, bottle-episode nature of the film itself, but Bakalova is a complete waste in this role, a personality-void blank slate that is an insult to the comedic chops that saw her land an Oscar for her performance in 'Borat Subsequent Film'. Given how manipulative Sophie is revealed to be in the film, dating an easily-domineered partner makes sense, but that's no excuse for the absolutely zero chemistry Stenberg and Balaklova have. Additionally, Lee Pace ('Captain Marvel') is hilarious as Alice's himbo older boyfriend Greg, but he's barely given any screen time to really let his comedic chops shine, or to be the eye candy he was so clearly cast to be.

Ultimately, 'Bodies' really cannot help itself in its final moments, slipping into the "gee, kids and their phones, ey?" filmmaking that older, out of touch generations typically handle this subject matter with. It's a fitting moment of disillusionment for a film that is hiding a worthy and interesting sadness under its satire that is as trapped as David and his guests.

Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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