Both slashers and whodunnits are genres that have been done to death (pun intended), and while the whodunnit has had something of a resurgence thanks to the likes of 2019’s well-crafted Knives Out, the slasher is often reduced to being a bland regurgitation of tired tropes and the assumption that covering everything in gallons of fake blood will somehow convince audiences that a slasher is thrilling when it is, in fact, usually woefully tedious these days.
With Bodies Bodies Bodies, the two genres are mixed in a satirical feature that pokes fun at the stereotypes often associated with Gen Z, all the while also showing decently fleshed out characters that feel real in both likeable and unlikeable ways, as the film’s characters frantically stumble their way through a constantly escalating situation that, quite frankly, is a rather realistic depiction of how most people would struggle to deal with solving a murder while stuck inside a mansion during a hurricane, as is the premise here.
Bodies Bodies Bodies may come across as a run-of-the-mill teen slasher in its promotional materials, but the film is more clever than that, playing as a straight-up slasher mystery that laughs with its target audience rather than at it before the truth is revealed with a fun twist that will either amuse or irritate its audience, all depending on the individual viewer’s willingness to go along with the tone, style and social commentary of the film.
The satire even extends to the way the film is lit, using phones as a primary source of light once the inevitable power cut occurs, which creates an eerie atmosphere that works well thanks to how most people having at some point had to navigate dark spaces with nothing but the trusty torch on their smartphone at their disposal.
The gore of the film is moderate with a few interesting surprises, which may underwhelm the gorehounds, but it should again be said that the filmmakers have put an emphasis on the narrative and commentary, meaning that the gore does somewhat take a backseat to the story and themes.
While the film may not re-invent neither the slasher or the whodunnit genres, or be the most ingenious horror satire ever made, it is nonetheless refreshing to see a slasher that is not afraid to make fun of its own premise and contemporary pop culture in general, just as the final twist is a humorously bold one.
Naturally, as is the case with such hybrid genre films, Bodies Bodies Bodies may not be for everyone, as some will find the characters and jargon unrelatable, so while the efforts of all involved with the production are commendable, some viewers will struggle to emotionally invest in the film, simply because they find nothing relatable about the scenario or characters depicted.
In general, 2022 has seen the release of several delectable slices of cinema in most genres, and the horror genre is no different with both the atmospheric horror thriller The Black Phone and the tongue-in-cheek subversiveness of X having been released to much acclaim this year.
While Bodies Bodies Bodies may not reach the same heights of suspense as The Black Phone, or be as slyly subversive as X, Bodies Bodies Bodies nonetheless has an identity of its own and dares to do something different to the vast majority of horror films by thoroughly committing to being a satire that refuses to take itself seriously.
Verdict: 7 out of 10.
* * * * *
Produced by David Hinojosa, Ali Herting
Screenplay by Sarah DeLappe
Story by Kristen Roupenian
Directed by Halina Reijn
Starring Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold,
Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace, Pete Davidson