'Bodies Bodies Bodies' review: Bloody comic satire is savage, ugly fun

Gruesome darkly comic thriller delivers on the promise of its title.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

A sleaze-caked, drug-fueled, colorfully violent Gen-Z bloodbath, "Bodies Bodies Bodies" is a darkly comic thriller that has the good sense to work as a mystery first, and later as a pointed — and hilarious — satire of Zillennial confusion and unease. 

About that mystery: a group of post-college-aged friends gathers at an East Coast mansion to wait out a hurricane. Among them are David (Pete Davidson, his mural of body tattoos either covered in makeup or digitally removed), Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), Jordan (Myha'la Herrold), and Alice (Rachel Sennott) — friends, couples and ex-couples who are familiar yet slightly hostile toward one another, in the way that long-standing friends can be. Fortysomething Greg (Lee Pace) is the outlier and newcomer, tagging along as the somewhat mysterious new boyfriend of Alice. 

Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders and Rachel Sennott in "Bodies Bodies Bodies."

Last to the party is Sophie (Amandla Stenberg), who brings her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) along with her. No sooner have the rains started to pour down than drugs are being copiously smoked or snorted — except by Sophie, who is recently sober — and the group decides to play a game to pass the time.  

They play Bodies Bodies Bodies, a party game where one person is chosen as the murderer, and it's their job to tag a victim, while the others must ask questions to determine whom among them is the killer. When one of them turns up dead, as in literally dead, paranoia and panic quickly set in, and their real feelings about each other bubble to the surface as the body count rapidly grows higher. 

Director Halina Reijn, along with screenwriter Sarah DeLappe, dig their claws into the scenario while merrily sending up Gen-Z tropes and talking points. One character accuses another of gaslighting, prompting a rant about the meanings of the term, another calls someone toxic, and so on: "Bodies Bodies Bodies" is a part of a recent wave of Gen-Z films (see also "Eighth Grade," this year's "The Fallout" and "The Hate U Give," also with Stenberg) that seems to have a finger on the pulse of the post-millennial set, their language and the way they view the world.   

The sly screenplay works first and foremost as a whodunnit, and Reijn captures a sense of mounting claustrophobia and dread as the bodies start piling up. (Production designer April Lasky and set decorator Elise H. Clark-Johnson do a remarkable job of creating a mood of being trapped at a party a day after it stopped being fun; by the end, the space looks like a bomb went off on the set of a Kesha music video.) "Bodies Bodies Bodies" doesn't pull any punches, and doesn't make any apologies. It's cutting, mean, and sharp enough to draw blood. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Bodies Bodies Bodies'

GRADE: B

Rated R: for violence, bloody images, drug use, sexual references and pervasive language

Running time: 95 minutes

In theaters