Death By Gen Z

‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ is a frenetic, bloody satire of wealthy, overeducated youth

A frenetic, bloody satire of aimless, wealthy, overeducated youth, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a perfect example of the kind of trashy, buzzy genre picture that churns out of the A24 factory. It has all the elements of a Gen-X 20something film–cocaine, love triangles, miscommunication, confusion–but none of the sincerity. These people have no hidden depths. They are children of privilege, with too much access to technology, and deserve everything that befalls them.

Directed by: Halina Reijn
Written by: Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian
Starring: Maria Bakalova, Amandla Stenberg, Rachel Sennott, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace
Running time: 95 min

The story opens with a lesbian couple, played by Amandla Stenberg, who was so magnetic in The Hate U Give, and Maria Bakalova, who was so wild in the Borat sequel. These girls have barely just met, but are deeply in love, so they say. Stenberg takes Bakalova to a mansion, which, despite its obvious mountain location, is about to experience the full brunt of a hurricane. There they encounter Stenberg’s friends, the biggest collection of rich dipshits this side of HBO’s Euphoria.

A mayhem of drugs and alcohol ensues, and as the characters grow more wasted, the camerawork grows more jittery. Stenberg proposes that the gang play a party game called Bodies Bodies Bodies, where one person is a hidden murderer and the other people become corpses. The power goes out. And then the game turns “real.”

So goes the premise, and to say more would mean the revelation of spoilers. Let’s just say that Bakalova’s character, who seems at first to be an outsider in whom the audience should have a rooting interest, ends up being just as shallow and clueless as the rest of the gang. Whether or not you can see the twist ending coming from a thousand miles away, it’s still sharp and apt and makes the overall experience satisfying.

In between, it’s a mixed bag. There are a lot of minutes of girls running around a dark house, screaming and bloody. We’ve seen a lot of that, and the jittery camera movements from Dutch director Halina Reijn, while appropriate to the story and subject matter, get a little grating after a while. The screenplay, from Sarah DeLappe, adapted from a short story by infamous “Cat Person” author Kristen Roupenian, alternates between extremely banal and really clever and pointed.

Then we have the performances. Stenberg and Bakalova are never anything less than appealing, but are much blander presences on screen in Bodies Bodies Bodies than in their breakout roles. Pete Davidson plays a version of himself, and is reliably sleazy and funny. Lee Pace, Ronan The Accuser, plays an older dude who stumbled into the wrong Tinder date, and the wrong party. But the real standout among the cast is Rachel Sennott, best known to non-YouTube audiences as the star of ‘Shiva Baby,’ who plays a complete magnetic idiot named Alice, a shrieking amalgamation of half-truths and motivational cliches. Alice hosts a podcast, the premise of which is “hanging out with your smartest and funniest friend.” Sennott’s timing and mannerisms are perfect, and you can’t wait for her to open her mouth again. Fortunately, she’s in most of the scenes, stealing them.

Every generation gets the defining movies it deserves. Gen-X had so many, good and bad. Millennials ranged from the mawkish Garden State to the awesome Scott Pilgrim Saves the World. Bodies Bodies Bodies seems to herald the dawn of a new Brat Pack, and it’s safe to report that the kids are just as addled, crazy, and annoying as ever.

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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 12 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer for both film and television, Neal has written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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