Search Party meets Murder Party in A24’s new dark comedy about a group of friends searching for a murderer at a party.
“Friends” in this case is a bit of a stretch given how quickly the wealthy 20-somethings turn on each other, their micro-aggressions appearing so early we know it won’t be long before someone gets mortally triggered. They seem closer to being Facebook friends (or whatever data harvesting platform Gen Z is using these days), more sources of online irritation than meaningful connection. So when a hurricane traps them in David’s (Pete Davidson) mansion, they must survive a coke-fuelled game of Bodies Bodies Bodies (a murder mystery not unlike Werewolf) without getting shot, stabbed, bludgeoned or cancelled.
Allegory has become something of a lost art in horror films, often preferring to state their single message overtly – whether it’s Men (“all men are the same”), the Candyman remake (“gentrification is bad”) or Cats (“spay and neuter your pets”). For a familiar premise (nothing beats Ready or Not), Bodies Bodies Bodies is surprisingly switched-on; a true allegory for social media and its subtle erosion of compassion.
The characters pop as loudly as the neon colours, especially Alice (Rachel Sennott, lit entirely by glow sticks) and Bee (Maria Bakalova, unrecognisable from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), whose Eastern European accent attracts low-key xenophobia from the privileged partiers. Sarah DeLappe’s screenplay cuts deep into their performative personas, policing one another’s language (“Don’t call her a psychopath, it’s so ableist.”) and hate-listening to each other’s podcasts; behaviour so smartly observed it feels like watching a really well-shot Twitter argument.
Slickly directed by Dutch actor Halina Reijn, the pace slackens only when the sharp dialogue gives way to gunplay. Where it excels is the integration of souped-up satire and stripped-down suspense, where looking at someone else’s texts literally becomes a matter of life and death. It marries the playful parlour tricks of April Fool’s Day with the dark of-the-moment irony of Search Party – and though it never reaches those heights (no one beats Alia Shawkat), Bodies Bodies Bodies nails its performances of performances; the toxicity of people who would never think themselves toxic, even when the bodies start to pile up.