Contains Mild Spoilers
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Popdust Score: 4 / 5
Billed as a biting Gen-Z satire, horror factory A24’s Bodies Bodies Bodies follows a pack of emotionally immature 20-somethings — and Lee Pace — as their mansion hurricane-party turns deadly. It’s a wildly fun whodunnit that’s more of a nightmare if you’re sober than if you don’t like horror movies.
The characters do drugs with near-reckless abandon, letting the new girl in the group go to town on a chocolate cake before deigning to mention that there’s weed in it. The characters aren't the most likable, making some of their deaths satisfying to watch in a theater or with a group. And the movie nails the privilege awareness and weaponized trauma language that Gen Z criticism is so known for.
The New York Times Review Controversy
The film is gaining buzz due to the response to a review in The New York Times. Horror critic Lena Wilson reviewed the film, noting that “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.”
Wilson then shared in a now-deleted video on her TikTok account, @neilsmom, that the star of the film, Amandla Stenberg DM’d her on Instagram in response to the review.
Lena Wilson explains why she reposted Amandla Stenberg’s DM about her #BodiesBodiesBodies review, which Wilson dubbed a “95-minute advertisement for cleavage”:
“I don’t want this person who has more social power than me to think that it’s fucking okay to do something like this.” pic.twitter.com/S0BadaoRWV
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) August 19, 2022
Stenberg’s DM reads, “ur review was great, maybe if you had gotten ur eyes off my tits you could’ve watched the movie!”
Wilson claimed that she was sharing the DM as a fellow queer person to hold Stenberg accountable for their homophobia and to not let people with ‘more social power’ think this was acceptable.
Stenberg in a followup video, claimed that it was a joke. While Rachel Sennott also has a significant chest, in 2018, Stenberg told Seventeen magazine about navigating their body in Hollywood.
“I’ve had people put pressure on me to lose weight or oversexualize my body because it doesn’t look infantile. People often say my boobs are too big. There have been several moments when I was filming a scene and someone came over with a small sports bra and said, ‘Put this on real quick. Your boobs look too big on camera.’”
TikTok turned on Wilson when it was revealed that the writer has a rocky history when it comes to reviewing black art and artists, belonged to a TERF group, and may have landed her writing job with the help of her dad, who is an editor at The New York Times.
So, is the movie a 95-minute ad for cleavage?
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies received its R rating for Pervasive Language, Drug Use, Bloody Images, Sexual References, and Violence; zero nudity or sexual imagery. The camera does not tend to linger on the actors’ chests or fetishize their bodies; in fact, the climax of the film happens when words pile up, not bodies.
With modern-day therapy-speak and “woke” ideological phrases, using words like ‘trigger’ and ‘ableist’ as daggers, the dwindling cast verbally spars against one another. If the acting, particularly from Rachel Sennott, wasn’t so strong, it might come off as cringey.
They wield progressive phrases much more adeptly than the gun, knowing they can turn the tides against whoever they can prove to be the most problematic.
Wilson’s claim that the movie is an ad for Charli XCX is also debunkable; the “I Love It” singer’s music is used in the film, but for the most iconic dance sequence of the movie, the creators chose a song that’s over a decade old — 212 by Azealia Banks featuring Lazy Jay. A song that the characters would describe as ‘an absolute banger even though Banks is super problematic.’
As far as Gen Z satire goes, it’s scathing in the same way HBO’s Girls was scathing against millennials; it’s a satire of the wealthy — and "upper middle class," as Rachel Sennott spits with venom. No matter how cool class awareness becomes, the upper class will never be truly aware, and it will always be a delicious case of schadenfreude when the rich get what’s coming to them — hello, Ready Or Not, Knives Out…
The language of the film might become painfully dated in the coming years, but for right now, this is the it-pick for Gen Z and up, Pete Davidson fans and haters alike.