Perhaps best known for releasing jaw-dropping original films like “Moonlight” and “Midsommar,” the film distributor A24 is also in the business of glamorizing youthful nihilism. Its co-produced HBO series “Euphoria,” where teenage sex bombs dress up their thousand-yard stares in glittery eye shadow, is an easy example. Now so is “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” a horror film directed by Halina Reijn that’s bloated with pompous irony. This is a movie perfectly tailored to one of A24’s key demographics: bougie 25-year-olds who value branding over substance.
It’s not that “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is bad. It’s visually appealing and nicely acted. But this film is not special, and like its shallow characters, it is persistently unaware of its own inanity. Stocked with fresh talent — Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”), Rachel Sennott (“Shiva Baby”) and Chase Sui Wonders (“Generation”) are among the glitzy cast — this could be a scathing satire. Instead, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is so intent on oozing cool-kid apathy that it serves up a whole lot of nothing.
If you’re a fan of slashers, you’ll recognize the plot: Young, hot people get trapped in a remote locale and are picked off one by one. The hotties in question are a group of twenty-somethings embittered by lifelong friendship (save a Tinder date played by the tragically underutilized Lee Pace); the locale is a faraway mansion. Fresh out of rehab, the flighty Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) is eager to show off her new love, Bee (Bakalova), to her estranged besties.
Unfortunately for Bee, Sophie’s friends — and probably Sophie herself — are heinous. Sophie’s sobriety gets a tepid “Yay!” before her buds glug down champagne and snort up coke. Petty arguments and egoism underscore every interaction. David (Pete Davidson), whose parents own the estate, is particularly bothered by Pace’s character, Greg, who he insists is “not, like, that hot.” (Spoiler alert: He is.) The film gets its name and premise from a game the gang plays, a sort of manhunt-meets-mafia that kicks off with everyone taking a shot and hitting the person next to them in the face. In case you didn’t get it, these are not good people.
The only thing that really sets “Bodies Bodies Bodies” apart is its place in the A24 hype machine, where it doubles as a 95-minute advertisement for cleavage and Charli XCX’s latest single. Overused Twitterspeak like the words “toxic,” “narcissist” and “gaslighting” have been lampooned in plenty of other projects, as has the fragility of well-heeled young people. There are certainly other slashers in this vein. The genre persists, in part, because audiences love to watch fat cats go splat.
These privileged prats get their comeuppance, sure, but the moral lands with a whimper rather than a bang. This is little more than a movie about terrible rich people that was made so other rich people could laugh at it and think, “Thank God I’m not terrible.” Everyone else will just have to stomach the cost of the movie ticket.
Bodies Bodies Bodies
Rated R for bodies, bodies, bodies. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. In theaters.