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Bodies Bodies Bodies review: A24's Gen Z horror plays a winning round

Twenty-somethings put their friendships to the test in an overnight game of betrayal and survival.

The cast of Bodies Bodies Bodies, bloodied and wearing neon necklaces
(Image: © A24)

Our Verdict

Bodies Bodies Bodies struggles at times to deliver a most dangerous game but crushes its extremely online social commentary with piercing sharpness.

For

  • Rachel Sennott and Lee Pace are having too much fun
  • Kills can get gnarly
  • Comedy cuts deep

Against

  • Momentum stalls
  • Themes can feel one-note
  • Lacks suspense

Halina Reijn's Bodies Bodies Bodies is an exciting concept about boredom-induced betrayals that ultimately lacks the inspired enthusiasm of A24's so far dominant 2022 slate. It's a Gen-Z whodunit that isn't very suspenseful or adept at its mystery angle. However, performances and the darkest humor translated through social media language score their intended laughs. 

Writers Sarah DeLappe and Kristen Roupenian highlight the dangers of being online too much and extreme personality fakeness, which is never worse than watchable. Still, Bodies Bodies Bodies can't hold a candle to A24 standouts like X, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On or Everything Everywhere All at Once

Unchaperoned paranoia is on full display; it just never lives up to the diabolical implications made by the movie's pseudo-slasher appeal under the guise of being Knives Out as written by an AI bot fed nothing but Twitter hashtags.

Amandla Stenberg stars as Sophie, a recovered addict reuniting with her old friend group for a "Hurricane Party" at best friend David's (Pete Davidson) family mansion. Sophie introduces her partner Bee (Maria Bakalova) to podcaster Alice (Rachel Sennott), rags-to-riches Jordan (Myha'la Herrold), David's girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) and Alice's older man-child fling Greg (Lee Pace) — but the vibe is off. 

Sophie's presence immediately throws David and uncomfortable stares are common until Sophie suggests they ride out the storm playing Bodies Bodies Bodies. A fake game about a fake murderer committing fake deaths, so harmless fun — until an actual dead body sends the night into chaos.

Bodies Bodies Bodies roasts 20-something vapidness as groomed by faux internet allyship, zero introspection and ugly nepotism complexes in the name of performative fame. DeLappe and Roupenian' satire has teeth and when characters nip at each other's throats as survival brings out the worst in former chums, there are some A-plus jabs. 

Rachel Sennott is on fire playing the gossipy instigator and outrage regurgitator whining about the hardships of curating a podcast audience — hilarious because Reijn intends to throw shade at shallow buzzword activism. Lee Pace is another standout who just wants to chillax — a word his juvenile elder would probably use — and has golden retriever energy that you know will get him in trouble once the murder subplot appears. That's when entertainment is at a premium.

What's frustrating about Bodies Bodies Bodies is how an innocent parlor game turned actual kill-or-be-killed scenario has a momentum problem. Rules are simple — everyone draws a paper slip, someone is dubbed "killer," they can't get caught — and the first sequence where Sophie turns all the lights out while partiers hide from the not-real killer is a blast. After that? The cycle becomes repetitive as Sophie's crew plays "Among Us" in reality. 

Yet, arguments over the villains never maximize investigative intrigue, nor do the off-screen killings truly fulfill promised slasher chills. The ceiling on Bodies Bodies Bodies is much closer to the floor than expected, lacking both the night's horrors and truthful payoffs as something more by the books than A24's delivered thus far this year.

For as good as Sennott and Pace are, other characters like Maria Bakalova's outsider love interest are fumbled. Pete Davidson is perfectly cast as a coked-out f**kboy, but maybe too perfectly — going along with the movie's less successful adherence to expectations. Despicable people do nasty things in the name of narcissism, selfishness and backstabbery with the smallest of pushes. Zero self-awareness leads to comical verbal sparring but doesn't have much to say beyond Instagram meme wisdom. It's a shame that Bakalova's given such a one-note foreign perspective or how everyone's worst impulses are the ones they'll continue to embrace. The gore flows and rants are scathing, there are just fewer thrills to the chase, even at a brisk 90-ish minutes.

Bodies Bodies Bodies is enjoyable enough — I just desperately wanted to love it more. When it's firing on all cylinders, the dialogue is sharper than Gordon Ramsay's favorite service knife and the comedy is like a slap to the face. It's a whodunit that reeks of daddy's tequila and bratty self-importance; but the whodunit setup is what's given the least thought. 

Halina Reijn has a keen eye for shot selection — Alice's multicolored neon bracelets and necklaces piercing through blackout nothingness — but forgoes storytelling depth beyond formulaic social group breakdowns. Still a bloody and brash winner, just with a less enthusiastic recommendation than initially hopped for.

Bodies Bodies Bodies plays exclusively in US movie theaters on August 5. The movie releases in the UK on September 9.

Matt Donato
Matt Donato

Matt Donato is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic who stays up too late typing words for such outlets as What To Watch, Bloody Disgusting, Fangoria, Shudder, Ebert Voices, and countless other publications. He is a member of the Hollywood Critics Association and co-hosts a weekly livestream with Perri Nemiroff called the Merri Hour. You probably shouldn't feed him after midnight, just to be safe.