This open-handedness is truly a bold gamble here, as Sarah DeLappe’s screenplay (from a story by Kristen Roupenian, the author of the wildly popular New Yorker short story, Cat Person), doesn’t exactly offer up a likable group of personas. Played by an electric Amandla Sternberg (“The Hate U Give”) and the wonderful “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” breakout Maria Bakalova respectively, the aforementioned snoggers Sophie and Bee are the first two of the bunch that we get to meet. With little snippets of information here and there, we pick up that they are in a fairly new relationship, on their way to a house party at the mansion of the very rich David (a goofy Pete Davidson), Sophie’s best, longtime friend. Also in the mix would be Pete’s posey girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), the competitive go-getter Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) and the fiery Alice played by an intensely bold, charismatic and present Rachel Sennott (“Shiva Baby”), the easy standout of the cast as a hilariously oblivious podcaster who can afford to talk a little less. The oddity in a sea of twentysomethings is Alice’s much older boyfriend, the 40-year-old Greg (Lee Pace).
With the exception of the modest Bee, these are all insufferably rich people, you see. But their money still can’t mask the pettiness that runs amok amongst their ranks. Grudges begin to surface as soon as Sophie and Bee walk into the grand mansion to everyone’s shock. Why didn’t Sophie respond to group chat and confirm her attendance? Who is that Bee she brought along? (With lingering feelings for Sophie, Jordan seems especially bitter about Bee’s presence.) It all feels like a perfect storm of resentments amongst the group, bested only by the real hurricane on approach, the actual catalyst of the house party filled with booze, drugs and silly games to be played in the dark.
Being the chief of those games, the murder-mystery-themed Bodies Bodies Bodies sets all the debauchery in motion across the imposing chambers of the estate. Before we know it, the posse loses all power and bloody bodies actually start falling one by one, against the backdrop of a raging storm and Disasterpeace’s increasingly alarming score. Working with “Monos” cinematographer Jasper Wolf, Reijn makes terrific use of all the nooks and crannies of the house’s handsome interiors, nimbly navigating a mazy string of events with edge-of-your-seat intrigue, a decent dose of frights and a genuine sense of humor. Every effective slasher—at least good ones like the original “Scream,” which lends “Bodies Bodies Bodies” generous amounts of its DNA—is a dance between what the camera shows vs. chooses to conceal. Well-versed in genre language, Reijn keeps you guessing here, sometimes even making you wish you could rewind to a few seconds ago and take another look at what just happened. (Needless to say, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is a terrific candidate for repeat viewings in the theater once you take in its unexpected reveal, thanks in no small part to its sensational ensemble.)