A long history of social deduction games predates the popular paranoia-inducing online game Among Us, from Mafia to WerewolfBodies Bodies Bodies presents a variation of the game among a group of privileged friends, one that spirals violently out of control once backstabbing, bad social behavior, and hysteria take root. The A24-produced murder whodunnit offers up scathing critiques of class, privilege, and modern toxic social media behaviors in a pitch-black social satire horror-comedy.

Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) professes her love to girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) just before heading up into the hills for a hurricane party at her best friend’s remote family mansion. They arrive just an hour before the hurricane begins in earnest, to mixed reactions from Sophie’s friend group. Her best friend David (Pete Davidson) seems thrilled to see her though still on edge from the drama with girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), including a black eye. Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) treats Bee with hostility, while party girl Alice (Rachel Sennott) holds them all together, including much older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace), with her drug-induced antics. As if the social tension wasn’t high enough, a murder mystery game of “bodies bodies bodies” devolves into perilous mistrust when an actual body count ensues.

Director Halina Reijn and writer Sarah DeLappe, from a story by Kristen Roupenian, treat their eclectic bunch like a cast of suspects from the outset. Everyone, even the timid and naïve Bee, seems to harbor secrets or masked motivations. This is a group of friends by name only, bound by the crushing weight of history and circumstance. Newcomers like Bee or the very out-of-place and much older Greg only expose the cracks of this volatile bunch. That they barely get along in the best of circumstances means the tension escalates at a rapid clip, long before the corpses crash the party.

The deaths are brutal and bloody but somehow not nearly as savage as the cattiness amongst this group. DeLappe and Reijn take aim at prevalent social media toxicity, privilege, and false allyship and friendships through biting satire. The pitch-black humor has sharp teeth and hurts almost as much, sometimes more, as the gnarly kills.

The cast is more than up to the task of this bizarre and engaging but deadly social experiment. All play deeply flawed characters with varying degrees of rooting interest. But it’s Sennott’s abrasively blunt Alice that steals the entire film. Alice, more than any other, tries to keep the peace. She’s also the character most susceptible to groupthink. It creates a dizzying, contradictory blend that Sennott chews up and spits out with reckless abandon, much to the amusement and delight of the audience. Sennott further establishes herself as one to watch with this role.

The raging hurricane blowing outside is tame compared to the abject chaos raging within the walls of the affluent remote mansion. Cocaine and alcohol flow free, causing secrets to spill, suspicion to breed, and clawing one’s way into the inner social circle to become literal. It’s a pressure cooker scenario, and Reijn makes creative uses of the jump scare but prefers to delve deep into her profoundly broken characters to raise the stakes. In the most twisted and sordid way, it’s deeply funny, with cutting observations on modern reactive tendencies over really listening. The cultural critiques resonate, though the characters themselves may polarize. A small subplot eventually leads to a wry punchline, but the build up isn’t quite so successful. Using a familiar social deduction game to implode an affluent group of fake friends in the most heinous way makes for a dementedly fun time that’s just as mean-spirited with the horror as it is the comedy.

Bodies Bodies Bodies made its world premiere at SXSW, and A24 will release the film sometime in 2022.

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