'Bodies, Bodies, Bodies' Takes a Stab at 'Ego, Narcissism' of Gen Z

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a game about murder ends up having deadly consequences in the new dark comedy Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.

The cast and director of the new A24 movie sat down with Newsweek to explain what sets this Gen Z slasher movie apart from similar movies that have come before it.

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is written by Sarah DeLappe, and directed by retired Dutch actress Halina Reijn. The movie, out in theaters now, stars a young cast of Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha'la Herrold, Lee Pace and Pete Davidson.

Stenberg, Bakalova, Pace and Reijn jumped on a virtual call with Newsweek to talk Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.

The Rules of the Game

Amandla Stenberg and movie poster
"Bodies, Bodies, Bodies," starring AMandla Stenberg is out in movie theaters now. A24

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is set in an extravagant house, where a group of mostly affluent young people decide to enjoy an overnight hurricane party. They play "Bodies, Bodies, Bodies" to pass the time, but everything gets out of hand when a real murder occurs over the night.

Known to Pace and Bakalova as "Mafia," Stenberg as "Werewolf" and director Reijn as "Little Murderer" in the Netherlands, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is a game where someone is secretly a murderer and must go on a killing spree before everyone figures out who it is.

"These games always end the same. People fight, people get their feelings hurt," Pace told Newsweek, comparing his own memories to the movie. "Bodies takes a really nasty turn but there's always misunderstandings. People's true nature comes out in these games, it never fails. There's not always a place for it at a party but it doesn't stop them playing it."

Teen slasher movies have come and gone before but star Stenberg believes Bodies, Bodies, Bodies gives the genre a much-needed update.

"I really love teen slasher films, particularly Scream. They had this meta world of genre bending and it created a story that is satirical and making fun of the form of the film itself, and Bodies is in the lineage of that actually."

Stenberg continued, telling Newsweek: "It's hyper contemporary. It's within the culture of what we're living in now. The themes we're exploring are ego, narcissism, rapidity, relationships not built on a meaningful foundation, navigating cancel culture, what it means to be problematic. I think all of those themes fold really beautifully into that sort of history of satirical slashers."

Bulgarian Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

Most of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is seen through the eyes of Bee, played by the Bakalova. She came to prominence in 2020 when she received an Oscar-nominated for her role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

After getting her start in her home country of Bulgaria, Bakalova looks set for a future in the English-speaking movie industry. Newsweek asked her what Bodies, Bodies, Bodies might have looked like if it were a Bulgarian movie.

Maria Bakalova and Amandla Stenberg
Maria Bakalova and Amandla Stenberg plays love interests in the teen horror slasher comedy "Bodies, Bodies, Bodies." A24

"In Bulgaria the movie title is translated as Killing Game or Killer Game which is kind of the story. But I think we're looking at a generational problem. No matter where you're from: America, England, Bulgaria, Australia, Japan, pretty much the generation is the same.

"We are all somehow driven by social media and our [phones] that we're looking through all day long, which is the reason why all these people are struggling through all the whole movie. So I don't think it's gonna be that much of a difference between the United States parties and relationships, compared to Bulgarian European ones," Bakalova said. "I don't think it'd be a big difference. It's a more universal movie."

A One-Set Movie

The entirety of the movie takes place in the one location, over the course of one night. For this reason, director Reijn could think of her cast as a "theater ensemble."

She was full of praise for the cast which included Oscar-nominees, a stand-up comedian and a Marvel movie villain.

Bodies cast at premiere
(L-R) Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Amandla Stenberg, Halina Reijn, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, and Lee Pace attend the A24's "Bodies Bodies Bodies" New York Screening on August 02, 2022 at Fort Greene Park in New York City. Cindy Ord/Getty Images

"I asked them is it okay if we sort of create [a theater] kind of atmosphere and that kind of preparation," Reijn said. "They prepared so thoroughly, all of them so thoroughly. They knew all their lines, some of these scenes are 15 pages long. And so these group scenes seems so effortless, but they are actually really hard. It was really on their shoulders to pull it off, but they really did it. So I'm incredibly proud."

To prepare her cast, Reijn had them watch Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as it reflected how a group of friends applied pressure on each other over time and cracks begin to form within their relationships.

A24 Are 'Trusting Their Taste'

The movie studio A24 hasn't even been in existence for a decade yet, but already the production company's name alone can help sell a movie.

Recent efforts from the studio include X, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Room, Ex Machina and Uncut Gems. Each person Newsweek spoke to implied that having the A24 banner convinced them that Bodies, Bodies, Bodies was a project they wanted to be a part of.

"I see people who are just making the movies that they want to see, which is oddly unique in this business," Pace said on his view of A24, from the outside looking in. "They just want to make a movie that they'll be entertained by and trusting their taste. And the fact that that's resonating, I think is a tribute to the quality of their taste.

"They're making these truly original movies that are resonating with people."

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies scenes
Maria Bakalova and Lee Pace appearing in two very different parts of the A24 movie "Bodies, Bodies, Bodies." A24

Bakalova is particularly impressed with A24's horror output. "They're doing all of these elevated horror movies in the last couple of years. You're watching Hereditary, you're Midsommar, you've seen It Follows, and you're watching and you're like, there is something on top of just the horror and fear," she said. "It's also visually satisfying to sit down and watch, and I hope it's the same with our film, which takes place in the dark. Somehow it's magical in a weird way."

Stenberg also gave props to the makers of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies for showcasing an honest yet still satirical demonstration of her generation—something which might have been lost if it was made by one of the "larger studios."

"I knew immediately that I was going to experience something that felt hyper contemporary and authentic to our actual times as opposed to a bastardization of how Gen Z talks or how they think or feel. I knew it was going to feel like, 'of the moment' and it was going to be complex in an authentic way that addressed the complexities of what it's like to be living in this exact time."

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is out in movie theaters everywhere now.