What is it?
Bodies Bodies Bodies is a satirical slasher film directed by Halina Reijn that premiered at the South by Southwest festival on March 14, 2022. It tells the story of a group of rich, young kids (plus Lee Pace) that gather at a mansion in anticipation of a hurricane, passing time by playing a detective game called “Bodies Bodies Bodies” – a game that suddenly turns all-too-real.
The film is like an Agatha Christie exercise channeled through the slasher and high school film genres. While it sells itself as a visionary, strong-voiced indie horror in the same vein as It Follows (2014), Raw (2016) or The Guest (2014), it doesn’t quite live up to those standards. About midway, it settles firmly into a satire on various contemporary issues, from class to sexuality to race to social media – especially evident in a long and hysterical confrontation dialogue between the surviving youngsters.
Part of this effort to capture the “hipness” of contemporary indie horror is the hiring of composer Richard Vreeland (b. 1986), better known under his pseudonym Disasterpeace, who graced the aforementioned It Follows with one of the most zithering, viscerally raw synth scores since the days of John Carpenter. Disasterpeace has often employed his chiptune style in computer games, but also deeper sonic landscapes in films like Under the Silver Lake (2018) for It Follows director David Robert Mitchell or the excellent men-on-a-mission film Triple Frontier (2019) by J.C. Chandor.
How it is?
The prospect of a new indie horror and Disasterpeace immediately spiked my interest, not necessarily expecting another It Follows, but perhaps a stylistic cousin. And in a way, that is what we get, even if it never reaches those uncomfortable heights.
In the film, the score weaves organically through a number of existing songs in the socalled hyperpop genre, bending hip hop and pop tropes into big and “fat” (or maximalist) landscapes. At the center of the score are two major ideas – one is a highpitched, alarm clock-like motif («Body Drop», «Jealousy Into Light») that comes to represent the panic or escape scenes in the film, not unlike the big scare moments in It Follows. It’s an incessant motif that is deliberately unnerving. The other idea, often counterpointing the alarm clock theme, is descending 6-note theme («Bee Bee Bee»), associated with the Bee character in the film (the most sympathetic of the lot).
Outside and beyond this core are brighter melodic fragments. A highlight track is «Aftermath», with its twitchy arpeggios superimposed on more delicious, deep basslines, before it eventually takes a faux-baroque approach in the last track, «Light Into Jealousy», with the lighter elements warped by heavily pitched sounds.
Overall, the score kinda sounds like John Carpenter as processed through a grinder, with a forward, minimalist momentum periodically undermined by more ‘comic’ effects, perhaps to illude the satirical aspect of the story. It’s not always an easy listen, but at a reasonable 29 minutes it never grates. While Bodies Bodies Bodies never reaches the visionary qualities of It Follows, as an album it presents an uneasy landscape – more satisfying than the film it accompanies – that once again displays Disasterpeace’s skill in navigating intelligently between the “ugly” and the “pretty”.