It’s pretty clear from the trailer that Bodies, Bodies, Bodies isn’t a run-of-the-mill slash-happy horror flick. Instead, it’s a TikTok-fueled whirlwind of Pete Davidson riffs, podcast jokes, and arguments over who’s triggered and who’s being gaslit. In other words, it’s a thoroughly modern murder flick—one with a twist viewers probably won’t see coming until the very end.
While much of Bodies’ special sauce comes from its very hip, very now cast—including Amandla Stenberg, Rachel Sennott, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders, Lee Pace, and the aforementioned Davidson—much of its zeitgeist-capturing mania comes from the mind of its director, Halina Reijn. WIRED talked to the Dutch actress and director about TikTok dances, Lord of the Flies, and whether Davidson’s online profile contributed to his casting.
WIRED: Bodies Bodies Bodies could be categorized as an extremely online slasher. Almost all of the movie’s characters have existed solely in the world of readily available social media and cell phones. Was that the tone of the movie when you agreed to do it, and how did you lean into it?
Halina Reijn: [Screenwriter] Sarah DeLappe and I created the tone. It wasn’t really there when we first got the story [from “Cat Person” author Kristen Roupenian].
We are so addicted to our phones. We're always looking at screens all day long. I'm the worst, so I see this mainly as a cautionary tale for myself.
The tone that we wanted was pretty delicate, because we wanted to do comedy, but also make it realistic and raw and energetic. It's really thanks to the actors that we were able to pull that off, because they were the ones who had to execute that tone.
I think that was the most challenging part of the whole movie, and I feel that we succeeded.
You do have to walk a thin line. You want the movie to be funny and current, but you also want it to be watchable and topical for years to come—not some relic, like where viewers in five years are laughing when someone orders a pizza online in The Net.
Totally. In the end, it's a film about group behavior like Lord of the Flies or Mean Girls. It’s about what happens when they are in a pressure cooker, and how the group reacts. I think the message is a universal one, and in that sense, timeless. Of course, the theme of having no reception and the theme of phone addiction are there, but that could also be replaced by other things. It's just vanity and narcissism. Wanting to belong to a group is so seductive, but then you see that all these individuals are so lonely and lost.