Bodies Bodies Bodies Review: A version of Scream for the zoomer generation
“They’re not as nihilistic as they seem on the internet,” Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) tells her new friend Bee (Maria Bakalova) in the A24 horror film body body body, as they go to a meeting with Sophie’s friends. Sophie and Bee have been dating for six weeks and head to a house party at Sophie’s best friend David’s (Pete Davidson) mansion. They plan to survive an approaching hurricane, but Sophie’s mysterious whims are just as catastrophic: it turns out her “not as nihilistic as they look” group of friends don’t even expect her to show up, let alone arrive with one partner you don’t know. Given how quickly the escape turns into bloody chaos, it’s a bad time to be the new girl in the crowd.
body body body is not a particularly internet-driven film; The hurricane quickly kills power at David’s home, and cell service and Wi-Fi go with it. The most controversial arguments focus on semi-private insults, not public-facing tweets. But Sophie’s opening attempt to soften her friends’ harshness lingers on for audiences as the night goes spectacularly awry. It’s true that these people don’t come across as particularly nihilistic. At the same time, they are all surprisingly willing to accuse each other of murder.
body body body begins as a social anxiety dramedy, not dissimilar Shiva baby, the Symphony of Discomfort starring Rachel Sennott, who also appears here, stealing scenes as Sophie’s friend Alice. The film also introduces Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), who is dating David; Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), who looks askance at almost everyone; and Greg (Lee Pace), an older guy who Alice dated even less than Sophie and Bee dated. Aside from Greg, the characters move in a nebulous sort of adulthood. They are somewhere between young and too old given their reckless drug abuse and careless dealings with one another.
Watching them bully each other, it’s striking to think about how canned and overly scrubbed most horror movie friend groups are by comparison. body body body eventually turns out to be a horror; It even begins with a parlor game, a gimmick as flashy as anything in a second-rate Blumhouse title, though director Halina Reijn and screenwriter Sarah DeLappe (who are working from a story by Cat Person author Kristen Roupenian) don’t show much interested in sticking to this framework. The power goes out on cue and the friends go from searching for a fake killer to an unsuspecting fear of a real killer if someone really turns up dead. (There’s a bit of meta suspense over which semi-famous performer will be the first surprise victim.)
From there, body body body begins to play like a compressed Scream, sped up, as if the filmmakers believe they are playing for a generation that can’t keep both eyes on a full-length feature film. The filmmakers make the compelling decision to balance both the bloodshed and the absurd. Instead of letting the satire give way to the horror film suspense, they make the accusations and defensiveness louder and more ridiculous the more the characters feel endangered. At one point, the deadly peril is interrupted by the equally shocking betrayal that one friend might hate listening to another’s podcast.
However, it seems possible that the film switches back and forth freely between satire and razor’s edge, because in the end it doesn’t have much to say in either mode. Sometimes it’s a relief Body doesn’t seem to have a comprehensive metaphor up its sleeve. In one scene, the characters in their fear and anger hurl a dizzying array of buzzwords at each other, as if furiously rebuking David’s initial complaint that the word “gaslighting” had lost all meaning. (The film doesn’t turn social media into a hook, but its language is quite online.)
All of the actors are solid, but Sennott is particularly funny as Alice, who treats every horrible turn of events as an insult against her personally. Ultimately, the film is more of a mischievous thought experiment than an attack on Zoomers; It essentially asks, “What if people who were hyper-aware of their own triggers and trauma had to respond to a spooky twist on horror movie events?”
But the horror aspect doesn’t quite last as the film progresses. Reijn’s lighting aesthetic of glowsticks and flashlights is decent at first, but the sheer volume of camera shake, close-ups, and streaks of glaring light ends up reminiscent of found-footage horror, without the unnerving sense of realism that subgenre’s better entries. It’s also named for a movie body body bodysurprisingly neutral about how young people use, abuse and manipulate their bodies and how this might affect their physical responses to danger.
The creators’ understandable but tamer instinct is to play instead a notice with the characters. That means Bee, one of his potentially most interesting characters, has to remain relatively opaque to keep a secret in a movie that’s running out of suspects pretty quickly. Despite the close proximity of the camera, this is an arm’s length horror film; Reijn and DeLappe seem uninterested in exploiting genuine fears, instead laughingly confirming any suspicion that your friends are secretly talking about you. body body body is a fun ride through those well-founded fears, but when the credits roll, some viewers might still be waiting for more clout — or a better punchline.
body body body starts in limited theaters on August 5th, with a nationwide release following on August 12th.
https://www.polygon.com/reviews/23289265/bodies-review-a24-horror-pete-davidson-lee-pace Bodies Bodies Bodies Review: A version of Scream for the zoomer generation