Pop culture seems both repulsed and fascinated by Generation Z — we’ve been branded as narcissistic, chronically online, and hypersensitive. Onscreen, depictions of Gen-Z characters are often either socially conscious cardboard cutouts or empty shells with Instagram notifications where their brains should be.
With the tagline, “This is not a safe space,” “Bodies Bodies Bodies” pokes fun at Zoomers and how others see us, resulting in a sleek satire where the insults are almost deadlier than the kills.
The film begins with Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and her girlfriend, Bee (Maria Bakalova), lazily kissing. “I love you,” Sophie says, smiling and searching for reciprocation. An awkward silence stretches between them. They’ve only known each other for six weeks. They are on their way to a hurricane party at a mansion belonging to the parents of a friend, David (Pete Davidson). Bee is apprehensive about meeting Sophie’s friends, noting how impressive they seem. Sophie brushes her worries aside, saying, “They’re not as nihilistic as they look on the Internet.”
The slight tension swells as Sophie’s arrival is a surprise — and not exactly a welcome one. Only Alice (Rachel Sennott) is excited, too wrapped up in showing off her significantly older date, Greg (Lee Pace), to register the instant change in atmosphere. Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) is immediately suspicious, unnerving Bee and accusing Sophie of not texting the group chat. David storms off, his girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) trailing after him.
Bee is left to her own devices, watching the rest of the group make a TikTok and fielding invasive questions. After a drink (and unknowingly consuming half of a weed-laced cake), Bee is dancing on tables and attracting Jordan’s attention. Annoyed, Sophie suggests they play a game called Bodies Bodies Bodies. One person distributes pieces of paper to the players at random, and whoever gets one with an X on it is secretly the murderer. They all turn off the lights and try to avoid being tapped on the shoulder by the “killer.” If a person is tapped, they play dead until someone else finds them and shouts “Bodies Bodies Bodies!” The lights come back on, and the group tries to figure out who the killer is. Accusing each other ends in tears, but when the hurricane cuts out electricity, the game becomes all too real as bodies actually begin to drop.
With its runtime of 95 minutes, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” has a cutthroat pace. By the time it’s over, you’ll want to see it play out again. The cinematography is as sharp as the characters’ casually devastating barbs. The raging hurricane outside intensifies the claustrophobia of being trapped inside of a house with seven of your closest frenemies. Flashlights, lamps, and cellphones illuminate bodies but obscure faces. Everyone is suspicious, if not an outright suspect.
Capturing today’s twenty-somethings is tricky enough even with a tight script (“You’re a spreadsheet with a superiority complex”), but making Zoomers realistic and ridiculous is all up to the delivery. And the cast of “Bodies” does not disappoint. Davidson is as usual a hammed-up version of himself, but he goes a shade more sinister and it works. Pace is delightful, playing a himbo and the triumphant winner of an impromptu underwater breath-holding contest. “I told you guys,” he says, “I got really big lungs!”
But it’s the women who shine. They capture the catty, poisonous, and confusing homoerotic bonds that can crop up between close female friends. They both prod and skate around their disdain for each other, leaving the audience to wonder why they’re friends in the first place. Hilariously, you can see them rethinking this decision as the situation unravels. Herrold’s composure deteriorates brilliantly, with Jordan’s sociopathic tendencies floating closer to the surface at the first sight of blood.
Sennott dominates the screen skewering the white-girl influencer trope so incisively it feels like you just saw her on your feed trying to sell you personalized skincare. She doesn’t stop at transforming possible cringe into gold — “he’s a Libra moon, that says a lot” — and certifies herself as a modern scream queen.
BODIES BODIES BODIES
Directed by Halina Reijn. Written by Sarah DeLappe, based on a story by Kristen Roupenian. Starring Amandla Stenberg, Rachel Sennott, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Lee Pace, and Pete Davidson. At Boston theaters, Coolidge Corner, and Somerville. 95 minutes. R (substance abuse, strong language, gore, and sexual content).
Danielle Momoh was a Globe intern in 2022.