Written in Twitter-speak and featuring terrific performances from Amandla Stenberg and Rachel Sennott, A24’s Bodies bodies bodies is a whip-smart gen-z whodunnit that doesn’t talk down to its audience.
All the ingredients for a classic whodunnit are present in Bodies Bodies Bodies, A24’s latest release and the English language film debut of director Halina Reijn.
A group of rich friends converge on an isolated mansion for a “hurricane party”. When recently sober Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) shows up with her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova), the atmosphere in the house becomes tense – and not just because Sophie didn’t respond to the group chat. After a game of Bodies Bodies Bodies results in an actual murder, the group must uncover who amongst them is hiding deadly secrets.
The twist to the classic whodunnit genre is that this is a film saturated in Gen-Z references. Bodies Bodies Bodies manages to satirise and speak to its twenty-something demographic much in the same way that Scream spoke to nineties horror junkies and Spring Breakers (another A24 release with a recognizable neon colour palette) did to indie sleaze Tumblr users in 2013.
The characters talk to each other brutally in ‘Twitter-speak’, using words repeated so often online in the wrong context, including toxic, gaslight, and trigger, they lose all meaning. The script is solid enough that it doesn’t feel as though the writers room fed their script through a Twitter thread.
In fact, the film is at its most exciting when the characters are bickering nastily: the dialogue is snappy and well-observed, the closest imitation to how our generation talks in recent memory. How else could an accusation of murder turn into insulting your friend’s podcast?
Bodies explores issues relevant to contemporary America but never does so didactically or by sacrificing tension. The film is so much fun throughout, it is only the final reveal which comes off a little gimmicky for an otherwise cleverly crafted movie which never talks down to its audience.
Amanda Stenberg anchors the film impressively as elusive protagonist Sophie, her intentions always obscured from view. The weakest link in the cast is Pete Davidson who plays David, Sophie’s childhood best friend and heir to the mansion. Davidson’s performance is more comparable to a cameo as he effectively plays Pete Davidson in another iteration of his King of Staten Island character.
The standout performance is undoubtedly Rachel Sennott as Alice, your “funny and smart friend”. Stalking around the mansion covered in blood and wearing a glowstick as a necklace, Sennott’s character delivers the best vocally fried one-liners, you don’t even notice how “vapid and annoying” she is supposed to be. Alice would be the most insufferable friend of the bunch ‘irl’, but Sennott drives home her comedic timing to perfection.
Bodies Bodies Bodies captures the current moment in the microcosm of a mansion. America’s dicey relationship with gun ownership, neoliberal online relations, our generations’ over-reliance on substances, and Azalea Banks’ anthem 212 are all touched upon and satirised. Its longevity is still to be determined but for now, it is probably the most fun you’ll have at the cinema this year.
Girlboss. Gaslight. Give Rachel Sennott an Oscar.
Bodies Bodies Bodies was released on September 2 and is in cinemas now.