The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - BODIES BODIES BODIES | The Movie Waffler


A gathering of rich kids at a mansion on a stormy night turns murderous.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Halina Reijn

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha'la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace, Pete Davidson

bodies bodies bodies poster

Sometimes a trailer oversells a movie. Take the well-edited promo for Dutch director Halina Reijn's English language debut Bodies Bodies Bodies, which makes the film look like a postmodern slasher, Scream with some added commentary on Gen-Z's preoccupations with online discourse. There are some gags in the trailer that land a lot better than in the actual movie, as whoever cut the trailer seems to have a better understanding of comic timing than the actual filmmakers. Bodies Bodies Bodies isn't even really a slasher movie, as the slashing takes place off screen. With the bodies of the title being stumbled upon by the guests at a mansion on a dark and stormy night, Reijn's film is a modern take on classic whodunits.

bodies bodies bodies review

In most murder mystery movies, the mystery isn't as interesting as the characters involved. That's the case here, as who done it is sort of a moot point that the movie itself doesn't seem all that interested in. Rather Bodies Bodies Bodies is more concerned with satirising its Gen-Z rich kids, but that satire is a little limp and comes off very much as the opinion of a Gen-X filmmaker with little more to say than "Get off my lawn kids!" Young people are awful, the movie says, especially if they're rich. It's hardly a novel message.

A slasher movie populated with unlikeable young people isn't exactly a fresh concept either, but here the movie goes out of its way to make its young characters insufferable. All except for Bee (Maria Bakalova), who also happens to be the one character that isn't American. An Eastern European of indeterminate origin, Bee also lacks the wealth of her peers, employed as she is in a mall store. She's somehow managed to bag herself a rich girlfriend in the form of Sophie (Amandla Stenberg), who brings Bee along for a "storm party" at the sprawling home of David (Pete Davidson). Also present is David's drama queen girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders); the ditzy Alice (Rachel Sennott) and her considerably older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace); and Jordan (Myha'la Herrold), who seems to have eyes for Sophie herself.

bodies bodies bodies review

Amid a game of "Bodies, Bodies, Bodies," which involves playing at being killers and corpses, a genuine body turns up, apparently slashed by a large sword that made an earlier appearance. As the group attempts to figure out who the killer is, paranoia leads to literal and metaphorical backstabbing as various resentments rise to the surface.

Bakalova's Bee is the classic "final girl," the shrewish intellectual surrounded by vapid glamourpusses, and making this character an Eastern European immigrant should have added some extra commentary on American xenophobia. At one point the other girls turn on Bee and accuse her of being the killer, which might have felt like a sly commentary on America's current obsession with blaming the East for its own shortcomings, but the movie has no interest in exploring this route. It seems the only reason Bee is Eastern European is because the Bulgarian Bakalova was cast and couldn't pull off a convincing enough American accent. Regardless, it's an opportunity squandered.

bodies bodies bodies review

Also squandered is Bakalova's comic chops, so famously deployed in her breakout role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. She's oddly cast in the role of the film's only straight guy, a Bing Crosby surrounded by Bob Hopes. The best of the comic foils is Sennott, proving that her excellent comedic turn in Shiva Baby wasn't a once off. Sennott gets all the best lines and delivers them with aplomb. Her Alice is essentially a bimbo, but one who considers herself an intellectual, and her use of terms she's become familiar with through online discourse yet doesn't really understand fuels much of the film's satire.

Unlike the blade that sets the mystery in motion, that satire just isn't sharp enough. Throwing in a few token references to "gaslighting," "triggering" and the like isn't enough to make for a cutting takedown of Gen-Z. Take out those references and there's really no difference between this lot and the sociopathic rich kids of the similarly themed 1986 comic slasher April Fool's Day.

Bodies Bodies Bodies
 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.

2022 movie reviews