A killer cast slashes through a disastrous hurricane party in a raunchy and fun romp meant for a theatre.
Everyone’s early twenties are weird. You’re still trying to find yourself and your place in the world, usually with the help of people you might consider your friends. However, not many people in their twenties in the grand scheme of the world have to deal with a murder mystery during a hurricane party.
This mystery is at the centre of Bodies Bodies Bodies, an uproarious satire of Gen-Z nihilism and the fragility of modern friendships by actor-director Halina Reijn. Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) is in the midst of recovering from addiction and has found solace in her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova). When Sophie and her long-time friends get together for a hurricane party passing through the night, what starts off as an innocuous game of Bodies Bodies Bodies turns into a whodunnit with increasing stakes.
A key theme throughout this year’s SXSW film lineup is self-awareness, with films such as Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent either pulling real-world elements into their story or leaning into their story’s silliness. Bodies Bodies Bodies is a different kind of self-awareness – instead of poking fun directly at itself, it embraces the absurdity of the group’s situation, as well as the ongoing online culture Gen-Z is experiencing. While the usage of buzzwords like gaslighting and toxic might lead to some cringey dialogue, it knows that these characters are using it in a misplaced or weird way, leading to some pretty funny moments.
Another key aspect of the film that brings it tension and humour in equal spades is its cast. Everyone in the eight-strong cast is deeply committed to their characters’ respective bits – Chase Sui Wonders’ Emma cannot stop being passive-aggressive even in the midst of danger, while Lee Pace’s Greg carries himself as the ultimate 20-year-old-chasing holistic himbo.
However, it is Myha’la Herrold’s Jordan that emerges as the shining star in a committed performance that pulls back the curtain on the silliness of the film and showcases just how dire of a situation these characters are really in. Watching her descent from the mediator of the group to the person who could tear it apart even further was not only darkly entertaining but also weirdly tragic in a way that only Herrold’s performance could evoke.
While the whodunnit element is effective for the vast majority of the movie, it does start to lead into some questionable optics towards the end. Of course, the inherent nature of a whodunnit is to not easily trust anyone, but it’s another thing altogether when the reasons why a character shouldn’t be trusted include their own personal struggles. Even if the expectations that arise in the film aren’t fully elaborated on, it was still surprising seeing a movie that claims to understand how Gen-Z treats societal topics still portraying some of those topics so stereotypically.