A lip-locking close-up is the primary we see of Sophie (played by Amandla Stenberg) and Bee, her girlfriend of six weeks (Maria Bakalova). Seemingly pulled from the pages of a fairy tale, Sophie confesses her love for Bee as they lie in a green meadow surrounded by nature. Inside seconds, that affectionate scene gives approach to a shot of the 2 absorbed of their phones as agitating dings and notifications dry up any remnants of intimacy or passion.
These juxtaposed moments in the brand new satirical slasher “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” ridicule the lack of its Generation Z characters to determine meaningful connections when a blinding screen forms a glaring barrier: “Sophie is expecting Bee to perform this intense level of vulnerability, though she perhaps has not earned it,” Stenberg explained in a video call, “and I feel that’s something that we expect now of everyone because all of us perform vulnerability on the web.”
That’s considered one of several ways the film — a few group of privileged, internet-hungry 20-somethings stranded at a house party — tries to color a portrait of the generation born inside just a few years before and after the millennium. Using humor, horror tropes and a solid of young stars, the film forces its characters to reckon with their nondigital identities and pokes fun at their symbiotic relationship with cellphones, their jargon based in trauma and the despot-like force of the group chat.
Because the director Halina Reijn said in a video call, “when the Wi-Fi goes out, it’s like they lose oxygen.”
Soon after arriving on the isolated mansion, Sophie, Bee and their friends play Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, a celebration game involving a mysterious killer the players must discover and vote off in each round. But when the facility goes out amid a hurricane, real bodies begin to fall. The characters’ behavior turns beastlike, Reijn said, and so they forget methods to reply to a crisis disconnected from the digital world.
“We are able to totally live within the face of death and still discuss things which can be so unimportant but are so big to us,” Reijn said, adding, “I find that funny and tragic, in fact, at the identical time.”
Stenberg, the star of “The Hate U Give” and the forthcoming “Star Wars” series “The Acolyte,” served as an executive producer of the film and drew on her own experience with digital life. She said the screenwriter Sarah DeLappe (a playwright known for “The Wolves”) embedded the script with a lot wit that the moments of hypocrisy and vapidity became easy to create. “The purpose isn’t to say that Gen Z isn’t intelligent or sophisticated, but somewhat to supply a commentary for a way absurd the circumstances” are, Stenberg said. (DeLappe was not available for comment.)
Amongst those moments, the partygoers, friends since childhood, playfully film TikToks over the Tyga-Curtis Roach anthem “Bored within the House” and rave about social media likes.
Gen Zers rely heavily on digital spaces for self-expression, community constructing and news gathering, Stenberg noted, but additionally face a way of cognitive dissonance as they fight to remain present in virtual life and reality. Indeed, said Sarah Bishop, a professor of communication studies at Baruch College, “for them to find a way to defamiliarize or step back from this massive presence of their life is asking them to do something not possible, right? It’d be like asking them to assume living without solid food.”
Alice, played by Rachel Sennott (“Shiva Baby”), invites her 40-year-old Tinder match, Greg (Lee Pace), to the home party. In Reijn’s view, Greg serves as a bridge for older viewers: He tries to learn the principles of the sport but uses sports analogies a dad might use, like “one of the best defense is an excellent offense,” and just bewilders the younger crew. For Reijn, who at 46 is a Gen Xer, Greg represented her personal detachment from Gen Z. “This goes, in fact, for each generation that grows older, you mostly, form of, lose touch,” she said.
Still, Reijn wanted the film to be real and honest but additionally funny, as each character shared the primal urge to belong when online usage swallows self-awareness.
“I feel we live in a time where we’re all very narcissistic, because we’re always on the camera,” she said. “Immediately, we’re always aware of how we glance and that’s, in fact, unprecedented, right? Normally, that was just actors, or musicians and now it’s all of us.”
Despite the physical danger each character faces, their virtual realities remain central to the plot. Because the lifelong friends, drunk and high, try to find out who the killer in the sport is, Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) exclaims that her boyfriend, David (Pete Davidson), is gaslighting her. David’s response: The word is meaningless, and all she did was read the web. Be more original.
With the usage of trauma-centered jargon like “gaslight,” “trigger,” “toxic” and “narcissist,” overuse can cheapen the language’s original value, Wonders said.
“I feel Gen Z has an excellent, good way of latching onto words, giving them a lot beautiful meaning and having it spread like wildfire across cultures,” she said, “after which have it swallowed by irony.”
Viewers can’t help but laugh at the buddies’ misery as they take emotional stabs at one another. Sophie erupts concerning the double standard between Black and white drug users, but somewhat than admitting the disparity, Alice responds, “I’m an ally.” Or when Jordan (Myha’la Herrold) questions Sophie about ghosting the group chat, she responds, “You trigger me.” Herrold, who declared this her favorite scene, said the solid spent late hours editing and rewriting the sequence to be sure that it remained relatable.
“A number of the Gen Z language, ‘gaslight’ and all that, a few of that was cut and we were like, ‘No it has to remain in here,’” Herrold said.
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is considered one of quite a few movies from A24 to attempt to capture a generation — think “Spring Breakers” and “Lady Bird” before it — this time to the tune of Charli XCX’s “Hot Girl,” epitomizing the egotism of post, reply and repeat.
This includes group chats. Comparable to cliques at a highschool lunch table, the chat dictates who’s out and in of the friend group. These chats hold political meanings, Stenberg said, and when Sophie strolls into the party without properly notifying the chat first, the home grows hostile.
“I’ve been in friend groups before where it’s an enormous deal if someone is faraway from the group chat or someone is added,” she said, “and it’s this horrendous, toxic thing where someone’s presence might be physically determined.”
From digital media addictions to gripping group chats, Stenberg said, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” doesn’t aim to categorise social media because the villain however the mirror inside us all.
“Now we have to consider carefully and intentionally about how those tools can bring out and amplify the parts of us which can be the scariest,” she said.