As I spam my friends’ group chat with several links to scenic Catskills Airbnb listings, I unexpectedly receive a WikiHow article: “How to Play Body Body.” My college pals and I are planning our yearly Fourth of July trip to the Hudson Valley, and with early anticipation for Bodies Bodies Bodies, my roommate demands we play the Mafia-meets-Among Us game featured in A24’s hottest summer slasher.
“If they want to come on this trip, they’re gonna need to play Body Body,” he shouts to me from a room over. I tell him to vote on a house to stay at first—if we’re going to play, we’re going to need a place to stay. He ignores me, whining that our friends might not want to play Body Body. We’ll call him the Amandla Stenberg of the group. While everyone else votes on a house, he emphasizes his message: “IF YOU ARE COMING ON THE TRIP, YOU ARE AGREEING TO PLAY BODY BODY.”
There will be seven of us on the trip, just like there are seven folks in the Bodies Bodies Bodies group. My roommate and I try to assign everyone in our friend group as a member of the cast, but we shudder at the thought of labeling any of our friends as Pete Davidson. Finally, we decide on a house tucked into a corner of a green mountain in the Catskills. In the Airbnb listing, the host recommends printing out Mapquest directions like it’s 2012—there’s no cell service in her neck of the woods. Great.
The lack of cell service, winding drive up into lush forestry, and chaotic Gen-Z friend group is all comparable to Bodies Bodies Bodies. (None of us are millionaire influencers, however.) Seven friends/enemies/lovers venture into David’s (Pete Davidson) parents’ gorgeous mansion to drink, gossip, and forget about the real world. But when they play the game and someone actually dies, the trip’s vibe twists into something much more murderous.
We can’t see more than 100 yards ahead of us during our ride up to the Catskills. The car is racing up into the highest altitudes, and without any service, our driver (my roommate, the one who insisted we play Body Body) has selected music he has pre-downloaded onto his phone: the soundtrack from It Follows. Heat lightning pounds across the night sky, while rain crashes onto our windshield, shaking the car and sending chills down my spine.
In other words—this is the perfect Bodies Bodies Bodies night.
So, what is the game? Some people call it Body Body, others Body Body Body, whereas the film refers to it as Bodies Bodies Bodies. Before we arrived, I had agreed to play (remember, this was a condition of the trip, not just an optional game) without understanding any of the rules. I only learned how after our group had put back a few bottles of wine, already on my hands and knees, trying not to topple over onto the wood floor.
You draw cards from the center: If you have the Ace, you’re the killer. Draw any other card, and you’re just a frightened passerby trying to stay alive. When the game begins, everyone closes their eyes and crawls around the room on all fours, lights off. The killer keeps their eyes open and can “murder” (wrap their hands around the passerby’s neck; they fall, motionless, to the ground) one person per round.
Once the dead person is located, the passerby who found the corpse shouts: “Body body!” The lights come back on. The group must now deliberate on who the killer is, based on proximity to the body, possible motives, and pure intuition. If the killer is voted out, they must confess. If an innocent person is selected, the game continues until the killer is one of the last two standing.
I draw my first card. I do not want to be the killer.
It’s the Ace of Spades. I am the killer.
Trying to play it cool, I decide to kill my boyfriend in the first round. No one would guess me if I did that—I wouldn’t kill my boyfriend! When he is found dead, the group immediately suspects me, but they also suspect my horror-obsessed roommate more, so they vote him out instead. A loud-mouthed pal is still suspicious of me. “If I die next, you guys should know that Fletcher is the killer,” he says.
I kill him next, another strategy: Why would I be so stupid as to kill the man who just put that huge target on my back? Obviously, if I were the killer, I wouldn’t go for him. But this plan doesn’t work: I’m outed as the killer, and we reset for Round 2.
Ready for a sitting break, I’m relieved by the concept of being killed in the game. I can’t be the killer again, right? Wrong. I draw the Ace again. This time, I complete the same first kill and get voted assassin immediately. Nice.
Finally—third time’s a charm—in Round 3, I draw the 3 of Diamonds. I get to sit back and let someone kill me instead.
But here’s the catch: Because I have been the killer twice already, every time we play, I am immediately accused. Starting to feel like Lee Pace, the outsider of the Bodies Bodies Bodies lot, I ponder if I should throw a face mask on and call it a night. Of course, I continue playing, and then something actually creepy happens.
The loud-mouthed guy who accused me (he’s our Rachel Sennott, bright and bubbly and a little too freaked out at times) falls dead; naturally, he refuses to keep quiet. You’re supposed to stay silent after you’ve been murdered as to not reveal any facts about the killer. Also because that’s just what a dead person does.
“Wait,” he yelps, before we can point too many fingers. “If you’re the killer, aren’t you supposed to kill people?”
We all nod.
“OK, then why did someone just try to kill me?”
“When you think a murderer is lurking somewhere in your dark cabin in the woods, go outside, where the dense trees and pitch black sky will protect you from all harm.”
We still don’t know what happened here. He had his eyes open and still didn’t see the assailant. A drink had been spilled; perhaps someone slipped and their hands landed upon his neck. Maybe a real killer had entered the house, played along, and left before the lights went on. Or perhaps, like the ultimate outcome in Bodies Bodies Bodies, we were a bunch of fools going berserk over our own drunken lunacy.
We stop playing the game and hurry out of the house to make s’mores instead. Ah, yes, a great idea: When you think a murderer is lurking somewhere in your dark cabin in the woods, go outside, where the dense trees and pitch black sky will protect you from all harm.
Still, we lived—though after actually watching Bodies Bodies Bodies, I’m surprised no one accidentally got killed for real. The next morning, we compare bruises on our knees instead of cleaning up blood and broken champagne bottles. I still have a few scars on my legs, but hey—I’m alive, right? And we had a lot of laughs. I’d play again.