On this particular night, David’s gathered former BFF Sophie, his current girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), and all their old friends from school, including Alice (Rachel Sennott) and Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), to wait out a hurricane that’s supposed to hit their town any minute. Alice has also brought her much older boyfriend Greg (43-year-old Lee Pace). Don’t worry, it’s not serious, nor is much else supposed to be on a night that’s intended for excesses of alcohol, drugs, and bad decisions. The worst choice, however, turns out to be agreeing to play “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” a party game where one friend pulls a card that says they’re secretly a killer. All the others must sniff them out through accusations.
It’s a game designed to dredge up old drama from long-term relationships and encourage a mob mentality wherein factions of friends gang up on the weakest prey. It’s apparently a favorite of Sophie’s old crowd. Yet this proves to be the first time they play the game, and an actual dead body shows up on the floor…
Bodies Bodies Bodies marks Reijn’s first picture as a film director, but the Dutch talent has spent years in the theater, including when she worked extensively with iconoclast stage director Ivo van Hove. That expertise shows via the filmmaker’s acute focus on her leading ladies’ performances and the messy, faintly sympathetic psychologies that mark these game pieces as human, even as they’re mercilessly deconstructed and destroyed.
The film is, again, from Baklalova’s point-of-view, who is easy for audiences to identify with since she’ll spend much of the first act as we do—struggling to parse out the old wounds and passive aggressive grievances bubbling beneath the surface. Bee is dating Sophie now, but the micro-aggressions of Jordan toward this interloper confirm who used to date Soph; meanwhile David is dating (but really constantly negging) Emma; yet his jealousy of Greg, who’s a graying hippie vibing with wild child Alice, suggests another backstory we never really explore.
It’s a sordid, vain scene where all the characters have memorized the syllabi from their liberal arts educations, although not necessarily the contents. Nonetheless, they’re not quite a collection of caricatures. Even Bee remains aloof as our eyes and ears, drawing suspicion on both herself and her choice in partners since Sophie’s apparent flakiness (she’s ghosted everyone in the house for months and then showed up for this party unannounced) raises its own red flags.
All of the very game cast inhabits these characters with a winking authenticity that is just tangible and charismatic enough to not write any of them off as clichés… or as suspects. Shiva Baby’s Sennott steals scenes as the most vivacious and flighty of the group, but is it a put-on? And Herrold’s aggressive stance certainly raises eyebrows for any Poirots in the audience. It’s all a meticulously laid setup that keeps you guessing and second-guessing the homicidal tendencies of these neon-lit revelers until the glow sticks go out.
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