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“Bodies Bodies Bodies” pile up trenchant tale of affluent anxiety

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” pile up trenchant tale of affluent anxiety

Privileged paranoia is rarely as enjoyable as in Halina Reijn’s English language feature film debut: a sharp, sarcastic slasher stabbing away at the elite’s self-obsession and self-loathing. A devastating lack of meaning serves both as the origin and outcome of a hilarious horror that is simultaneously physical, psychological and parodistic. The Danish director’s genre gem cunningly mimics mainstream movie’s detachment from lower-class reality by zooming in on a prototypical group of upper-class kids. Their hurricane party set in friend’s mansion is crashed by their estranged friend Sophie (Amandla Stenberg).

The recently recovered addict brings her new girlfriend, eastern European Bee (Maria Bakalova), the only one unfamiliar with the affluent apathy of the spoiled sextette she’s to stay with. Belligerent host David (Pete Davidson), his theatrical girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), self-righteous Jordan (Herrold), pretentious podcaster Alice (Rachel Sennott), her older Tinder date Greg (Lee Pace) and Sophie are, as Emma puts it, „rich” or „rich rich“. They scoff at Bee trying to contribute to the expenses by bringing food, spill expensive champagne, toy with antique armor and play the titular game. 

One person pretends to be the murderer, „killing“ others in the dark by touch. When the lights are turned on again, those still „alive“ debate who among them is guilty. It all becomes very real when David staggers into the room with his throat slashed. He’s been murdered, and the killer is among them! Or so the prosperous protagonists believe, seeing themselves as characters in their very own horror movie. Which they are. But meta jokes and media critique remain at the outer edges of a story dissecting the destructive forces of entitlement. 

Modern media buzz words mixed with old-fashioned moralism emphasize the attention-hungry egotism of the rich and the rich rich form whom political awareness and a social conscience are just fashionable façades. Behind them hides reactionist prejudice, bringing forth intended slurs like: „You’re upper middle-class.“ Jordan, at whom this is directed, has been trying to break up Bee and Sophie out of jealousy. In contrast to Bee Jordan knows that class crossing relationships are doomed but underestimating the accuracy of her own assessment, groups herself in with the elite. 

For them, though, she will always be some posh pauper. The insurmountable class divide is underlined by the murder blame game. Animosities and long-nurtured resentment erupt in an escalating spiral of suspicion and deadly violence. The first victim is middle-class Greg, ironically slayed by Bee who is driven by the other’s frenzy. When moments later she finds herself accused, Sophie does nothing to protect her. The elite only embraces the working class – in Sophie’s case literally – for their own needs. On the other hand, Bee does endanger herself for Sophie’s sake. 

In the final moments, the two lovers are alone with each other again. Just as they used to be in an idyllic opening scene set in the woods – symbolically removed from their social frame. Now their mutual feelings have festered into deep distrust, their love another casualty. So the bloody lesson in social dynamics isn’t as much about the vain death of old money. Rather it is about the brutal demise of the delusion that its young heirs prone to highly politicized idioms would ever want to dilute their hegemonial prerogative.

  • OT: Bodies Bodies Bodies
  • Director: Halina Reijn
  • Screenplay: Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2022
  • Running Time: 95 min. 
  • Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson, Myha’la Herrold, Lee Pace, Conner O’Malley
  • Release date: 05.08.2022 (US) | 27.10.2022 (GER)
  • Image © Sony / A24
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