The following contains spoilers for body body body.
is body body body a slasher? Is it a riddle? Is it both? Whatever it is, the path it takes is paved with today’s internet culture, the ramifications of gross privilege, and what those two things can do to our relationships and our brains.
body body body could easily have represented a problem I have with many films dealing with these issues: the dialogue. Movies and shows like this are usually full of catchphrases and phrasing built to create a modern setting, and more often than not the material ages by falling off as if written by a robot (I had this exact issue with the rebirth of 2021 gossip girl). Thank God, body body body dodges this problem by understanding the absurdity of its dialogue. Characters literally say, “Don’t say that, it’s so outlandish,” “Mental health is SO important,” “You’re triggering me,” all thrown into otherwise serious, believable conversations. The lines feel out of place because this terminology is unusual for conversation outside of Twitter, and the seriousness with which they’re said makes them funny.
The characters who engage in this dialogue can be categorized into individual stereotypes of social media obsessed 20s. You have Sophie (Amandla Stanberg), who has a history of mental instability; Bee (Maria Bakalova), the innocent “good girl” who calls her mother all the time; Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), the self-righteous with a superiority complex; David (Pete Davidson), the insecure man who doesn’t subscribe to modern “wake up”; and then Alice (Rachel Sennott) and Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), the selfish and the wannabe… I guess. I’m having trouble distinguishing their individual roles as it felt like they could have swapped one for the other and the film would have been the same. There’s also Greg (Lee Pace), Alice’s much older boyfriend, who I think serves as a representative for the confused older generations being nudged into the craziness of the younger generation. Each person delivers a different kind of ridicule that has become standard in online interactions. They’re all mostly monotonous, though body body body serves as an example of how simple characters can be used sensibly. A movie with this running time doesn’t have time to superbuild everything, and it doesn’t try, and it doesn’t have to. It wants to make a point (or two or three) and only needs reasonably shallow characters to make it.
The common thread is that most of the time none of them know what they are talking about. Perhaps David was right; Maybe Emma doesn’t know the correct usage of the term “gaslight” – in fact, she probably doesn’t. Jordan preaches and enjoys being the “lower class” friend when her family is comfortably upper middle class, as explained by Alice. The digital world, while all-encompassing, can isolate rather than enrich. Each character always has their phone and never lets go of the endless daydream that the devices represent. The phones never die either; Nobody ever frets about battery life. They are so far away that their illusions are immortal. They have been absorbed into a warped world of their own creation, and perhaps what they say makes sense in that world, but any reasonable viewer will identify it as madness.
The scene where Jordan shoots Alice in the leg for questioning, as Alice puts it, her view of herself is the best example of this distortion. At this point, the film consists of four characters: Bee, Sophie, Alice, and Jordan. Jordan has the only identified gun in the house. She points the gun at Alice while Sophie and Bee look on. Alice receives a bullet hole through the leg from an angry Jordan. A barrage of “why did you shoot me?” follows. “What the hell?” “Why did you do that?”, to which Jordan replies, “No, I didn’t.” She rejects in the strongest terms, to the point of blasphemy, any idea that she could have done anything wrong. These characters, especially Jordan, cannot question the illusion of their lives. You can’t be wrong; they cannot be less than what they think they are.
We all know “show don’t tell”. If we went by what the characters told us, we would think they are best friends who love each other. But if we go by the show, people who love each other don’t treat each other or talk about each other the way these characters do. There’s so much they hate about each other. You can’t share a room for a night without one relationship or the other exploding because one or both parties are acting like a madman with resentment.
They shoot at low-hanging fruit with each other, demonstrating not only their immaturity and lack of intelligence, but also their underlying contempt for one another. Sophie is cruelly scolded for her drug abuse. Emma’s status as an actress is often used to discredit her. Bee is suspected because she is a foreigner. They rush to take a sip at every opportunity, as if asking for a reason to tell a certain character they’re awful. Even the games they play are an outlet for aggression (e.g. the slap drinking game where one person has to take a shot and hit the person next to them).
In the scene about Alice’s podcast, Sophie seems physically unable to contain her true feelings, rolling her eyes and sighing in exasperation every time Alice describes the content of her podcast. To be fair, the subject is eye-rolling, but imagine you care so little about someone that you can’t even pretend to respect something they’re passionate about. And earlier, when the suggestion to play body body body comes up, Emma’s discomfort with the game is ignored; everyone else’s good time is more important than their comfort, and they need to participate too. These characters don’t know what it means to love someone as a friend.
This is representative of a phenomenon I’m fairly familiar with. I’ve watched people stay friends, even best friends, despite constant fights and turmoil. The characters of body body body are one such group of friends. Why do they put up with each other when they despise each other so much? Why do they keep claiming love when hate is the most prominent emotion in the text? Maybe it’s out of desperation; If they don’t have each other, then who do they have? They say they’ve been friends “forever” and maybe time has done more damage than they care to admit. They cling to each other for the sake of intimacy, but they hold on to versions of each other that are long dead – and in the end they are real, Yes, really dead.
The film ends with the revelation that the only murders were those committed after the first body was found; David died trying to reenact Greg’s pop-the-champagne-with-a-sword trick (Pete Davidson seems to enjoy being the first to die in his films). And so all the bloodshed was in vain, as were all the harsh words and the shouting and the tears. But it would happen anyway. A group of “friends” with such a fragile bond would eventually fall apart.
Ultimately, this film serves as a kind of mega-commentary on the bombardment of issues that have been reinforced and brought to new states by internet culture. Privilege, unreality, selfishness, insecurity, catastrophism, identity, disrespect, selfishness and just plain buffoonery are on constant display here body body body.
Besides, it is total a slasher.