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Thursday, September 28, 2023 — Houston, TX

‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’: Glitzy, fabricated storyline lacks substance

Photo courtesy A24

By Imogen Brown     8/23/22 11:21pm

Rating: ★★★

A colorful portrait of privilege, egotism and murder emerges in A24’s latest film, “Bodies Bodies Bodies.” Released in theaters Aug. 12, “Bodies” follows the wealthy, assertive Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) as she invites her reserved girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) to meet her friends at a remote mansion. Eerily tranquil shots of attractive 20-somethings floating underwater in the mansion’s pool introduce us to the “Bodies” ensemble: narcissistic David, unassuming Emma, mysterious Jordan, vapid Alice and Alice’s middle-aged, clueless boyfriend Greg. Upon their arrival, Sophie and Bee are met with reluctance and social tensions, which only build as the day progresses. That night, in a blur of drugs and dancing, Sophie suggests a murder mystery game that quickly becomes all too real. While a hurricane rages outside, characters are found bloodily still throughout the house; respective corpses shed light on old grudges, lurid truths and, most importantly, the obnoxious self-absorption of our affluent protagonists. 

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is A24’s reimagination of a classic thriller trope: lightning strikes accent the mangled bodies of each victim while surviving protagonists fling bitter accusations at one another. As the story progresses, however, it becomes clear that the film’s focus centers around its character’s relationships: broken trust, warped rationales, desperate tendencies toward self preservation and an obstinate unwillingness to simply talk to each other all hint at themes beyond the cheap thrill of a ‘whodunnit.’ This personal twist would be a seamless, refreshing transition away from typical horror narratives, were it not for the lack of substance behind the crafting of each tedious personality.

The problem is that in “Bodies’” reliance on the intrigue of hidden resentment or romantic jealousy leaves the development of each character just as two dimensional as that of the satisfyingly gory slasher movie it seeks to separate from. There is no complexity to Sophie, Bee nor their companions beyond the shock of their immense wealth, conceit and hatred for one another. The emotional relationship between the two leads is scarcely demonstrated in favor of the sexual one, making it difficult for us to sympathize or relate to the trials and tribulations they later face. “Bodies” appears a seductive, compelling production for viewers: its air of satirical self-awareness and glamorous cast of well-known celebrities almost manage to pull off the self-indulgent atmosphere of sex, drugs and violence. Beyond minute thirty, however, its lack of substance brings the structure of the film tumbling down into sensationalism and redundancy. “Bodies” becomes nothing more than its most surface-level components: its attempts at garnering laughs and gasps (of which there are too few to wholeheartedly label the film “funny” or “scary”) and its visual and auditory stimulation. The result is a ninety-minute montage of young, hot people creeping around an ominous mansion, occasionally screaming obscenities at one another and generally acting frustratingly dense. 

The pointless gaudiness of “Bodies” adds to its superficial appeal; though “Bodies” ends up a completely forgettable film, its big-name flashiness, sporadic comedy, sexiness and scariness might make for a solid entertainment experience. Beyond this crude, sensory amusement, the film’s lumpy rhythm and inability to create sympathy or materiality for any of its spoiled characters render its purported satire derivative and meaningless. 

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