By Hannah Sender
SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Trigger warnings: Death and gore
Bodies Bodies Bodies is a campy, whodunnit slasher released in August 2022. The film is set in present-day New York at a mansion full of chronically online 20-somethings. The guest list includes bubbly podcaster Alice (Rachel Sennott) and her 40-something boyfriend of two weeks Greg (Lee Pace), along with cynical, emotionally detached Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), overly-emotional Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), and her insecure boyfriend David (Pete Davidson). Not on the guest list, however, are chaotic Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and her girlfriend of six weeks, mysterious Bee (Maria Bakalova). Besides Greg and Bee, Sophie and the others have all known each other for years, but their friend group deteriorated with Sophie’s abrupt departure to rehab months before.
As a hurricane approaches New York, the friends decide to come together for a reunion. Sophie decides to join, although – much to everyone else’s resentment – she failed to make the group chat aware of her and Bee’s attendance, nor of Bee’s existence in the first place. Nevertheless, Sophie and Bee show up and are welcomed with somewhat open arms. Bee anxiously navigates the strange dynamics of the group as Sophie tries to reinstate her presence. Later that night, everyone decides to play an old game they created called “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.” Before the game begins, everyone draws a piece of paper. Whoever draws the paper marked with an “X” is assigned the role of the “Killer.” When the lights go out, it’s a free for all. After someone finds the first “murder victim,” they must shout “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies,” and the group reconvenes to vote for who they think is the “Killer” and kick them out of the game. When the hurricane suddenly kills the power, the remaining group members are forced into survival mode with the body of one of their friends is found dead outside the house. After years of playing, no one was prepared to face a real killer.
After watching the film for the first time with my Dad and asking him his thoughts, he said he thought it was good. Funny, even, but he didn’t understand it. I was floored, I thought that the several references targeting Gen Z’s excessive, screen-obsessed behavior would resonate with him. However, I realized that these references were simply too specific for Gen X to identify and couldn’t have been included for them to understand. Terms like gaslighting, toxicity, and being “emotionally attacked” are thrown around to such excess, displaying their overuse by Gen Z even in the most bizarre situations.
Every few years there comes a new sloppy attempt at modernizing the whodunnit slasher comedy genre, which to our generation reads as cringey and inaccurate. Naturally, these are the films that usually leave parents and older generations rolling in laughter. Depicted in Bodies Bodies Bodies are a few critical differences. Instead of taking Twitter lingo and saying, “look how ridiculous these people sound, now talk like them,” in the context of murder, the melodramatic dialect is perfectly hilarious. When a word like “ally” is used in an anxiety-inducing life-or-death situation, it loses all meaning. Because of this, the satire never feels tired, which is a massive accomplishment when dealing with this highly critical crowd. Unlike other films in the genre, the script doesn’t talk down on Gen Z culture but rather overdramatizes it to a level of scary accuracy. At that point, we just have to laugh and accept it.
SPOILERS AHEAD. This is most apparent toward the end of the movie when the manner of death of the first victim is revealed. The victim’s phone is unlocked to find a TikTok draft. In the video, the victim is messing around with a bottle of champagne and a sword, trying to break the bottle open with the blade. He struggles for a few seconds until he misses the bottle completely and slits his throat. This ending was unsatisfactory to my dad and likely other members of older generations. Truthfully, I couldn’t help but love it because, quite frankly, the entire concept is very Gen Z. After the first death, the majority of the film consists of the rest of the group gradually driving themselves crazy and pointing fingers to the point of each of them dying one by one until only two remain. This recontextualizes the film completely, as the only surviving characters realize that the killer was themselves all along since the deaths all resulted from their collective stubbornness and self-importance.
For someone in Gen Z, it is apparent solely by the film’s tagline, “This is Not a Safe Space” that the movie is not targeted at older generations, but rather a clever illustration of Gen Z’s overdramatic, emotional, and chronically online behavior that can be appreciated only by our generation. Bodies Bodies Bodies is a truly modernized, cynical, yet authentic take on a familiar genre. The film brilliantly and comically dramatizes the younger generation’s involvement in the current digital age and cements itself as a modern classic for the horror-comedy genre.