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Bodies Bodies Bodies was meant to end like this, says director Halina Reijn

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At first glance, Body Body Body, the latest film from buzzy hit factory A24, seems to follow the standard conventions of your classic horror movie. During a massive hurricane, a once tight-knit group of hyper-privileged besties and their partners retreat to their friend Davids (pete davidson) mansion to weather the storm. There they play Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (aka Mafia), and one by one begin dropping like dead flies on patios, in basketball courts, and at the bottom of stairs. As bodies pile up and old grievances are unleashed, one question remains until the end, who is the killer?

Of course, the answer is not as simple as it seems at first glance. (For those wary of spoilers, now would be a great time to stop reading.) In a nihilistic twist, the Last Girl Bee (Maria Bakalova) and his girlfriend, Sophie (Stenberg Power), find out there was never a killer: the series of unfortunate events began because David accidentally cut his neck while trying to slash a bottle of champagne in a stunt of competitive machismo after seeing Greg, an older alpha male (Lee Pace) do it earlier in the day. In Body Body Bodyall the sound and fury, ultimately, had nothing to do with it.

For the director Halina Rein, That’s the point. The key to this film for me, coming from a background of radical theater and dark art house, is the fact that there is no killer, she says into her computer camera, holding a a glass of champagne. You know it Three sisters from Chekhov, where they are going, Were going to Moscow, were going to Moscow! And they never go, and it ends like, Ah, much ado about nothing. That’s exactly what I wanted to say with the film.

An accomplished actress and director in her native Netherlands, Reijn made her directorial debut in English with Bodies, bodies, bodies. Although she knew precisely how she wanted the film to end, Reijn still had doubts about the final twist when the film premiered at South by Southwest in March. I was literally dying, my stomach hurt like, is this going to work?, she said with a relieved look. Now that it seems to work, I’m super grateful.

In the first drafts of the screenplay written by cat person author Kristen Roupenian, there in fact has been A killer. But Reijn and screenwriter Sarah DeLappe quickly became drawn to the idea that the horrors that befell the group, both interpersonal and fatal, should instead be of their own making. The central theme of the film is: is the killer outside of you or is he inside of you? Are we beasts or are we civilized? explains Reijn.

That the fragility of the male ego was ultimately responsible for inflicting immense amounts of pain and trauma on a group of young women (and on Greg) was fundamental to Reijns’ storytelling. It’s a metaphor for an old world. It’s a metaphor for a time that hopefully was still fighting to get this behind us. With David, she knew she wanted to explore the toxicity and conceit of straight, white men, and the pressure on these old-fashioned men to be strong, and the ripple effect that can have. have within a community. The character that Pete Davidson plays represents all of these toxic values.

Davidson was more than a game to tap into his darker side to confront drug-addicted David. He knew exactly what I was talking about. He literally said he knew guys like that, Reijn recalls. He really liked channeling it. Reijn calls the Saturday Night Live alum a genius of an improviser who came up with one of the film’s most instantly quotable lines. The lines where it goes, like, I look like I’m fucking, that’s the vibe I want to put there. It just happens with that.

Another notable improviser was Rachel Sennot, who plays Alice, Greg’s podcast girlfriend. Reijn says Sennott gave the film some golden moments, including the iconic line I have body dysmorphia. It’s something she said to me at dinner, and then I asked her, Can we use it? And she was like, Yeah sure, Reijn recalls. She also improvised beautiful moments, just incredible. Reijns’ directing style encouraged these spontaneous moments. I’m not saying cut, she told me. I left them for a long time. It scared them at first, because they were like, what do you want me to do? The scene is over now. I just wouldn’t stop. You get those really authentic looks and close-ups that you can use.

In addition to letting the camera linger, Reijn applies a spirit of collaboration and the discipline of theater veterans to his filmmaking. Sarah DeLappe and I are really fascinated to work with Shakespeare, Ibsen and O’Neill, and just try to fly and be inspired by them, she says. She credits the Dutch theater maker Ivo van Hove as his greatest artistic influence. I don’t have a film school. I work on intuition, says Reijn. But my school worked with him and lived in all these rooms. I played Hedda Gabler for 10 years.

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