Interweaving body horror and psychological warfare, Dutch actor-turned-director Halina Reijn’s dramedy slasher Bodies Bodies Bodies stirred up the festival crowd at this month’s SXSW. The film’s female-dominated cast and crew put a signature A24 stamp on this one hell of a ride – powered by one of the most well-orchestrated ensemble performances of the scream queen genre in years. The result is an insidiously delicious modern satire, which is bound to become another cult favourite from the beloved indie studio.

The film opens with a young lesbian couple Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and Bee (Maria Bakalova) crashing a mansion party hosted by a group of Sophie’s estranged friends on a remote mountain. When they start role-playing a murder mystery game in the middle of a hurricane, the nightmarish game drastically becomes their reality of dramas, deceits, and bloodbaths. Keeping us on the edges of our seats from start to finish, Rejin and the writers have conjured up a classic onscreen human experiment in extreme human conditions – and smugly put a zeitgeist spin on it.

As these entitled, manipulative 20-somethings of generational wealth are racially and sexually diverse, their intertwined conflicts derive from their narcissism and break out through their mutual insults and blame-shifting – all in disguise of fake empathy and performative allyship. Visually, Reijn and cinematographer Jasper Wolf take full advantage of the mansion’s sectionalised, maze-like setting by switching between tracking shots and close-ups, and in turn reveal the characters’ hysterical stupidities one step at a time.

Here, with tongue-in-cheek punchlines perfectly timed into a chain of jump scares, the film illustrates an oxymoron epitome of the contemporary youth generation’s status quo – where they resort to nihilism and hedonism to cope with information overload, while sugarcoating their intersectional anxieties with slogans of toxic positivity. In the end, its humours work even better than its frights.



CAST: Rachel Sennott, Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace, Chase Sui Wonders, Myha’la Herrold

DIRECTOR: Halina Reijn

WRITERS: Kristen Roupenian, Sarah DeLappe, Chloe Okuno

SYNOPSIS: A group of rich 20-year-olds play a party game in a remote mansion amidst a hurricane. Things quickly goes awry.