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'Bodies Bodies Bodies' director shares how Gen-Zers' addiction to TikTok helped inspire the film

The film follows a group of social media-obsessed young adults who get stuck in a mansion during a power outage.
Image: Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson
Chase Sui Wonders, who plays Emma, hugs Pete Davidson, who plays David, while in a pool during the film, "Bodies Bodies Bodies."Stage6Films via YouTube

Warning: This article contains minor spoilers.

Halina Reijn wasn’t on TikTok before she directed “Bodies Bodies Bodies.” But soon after joining the social media app to research Gen Z and youth culture, she became addicted.

"It didn’t really appeal to me before the film, but now ... I’m sucked into it," Reijn said.

The TikTok obsession is partially what helped fuel Reijn's passion for the making film, which rolls out in theaters Friday.

The film follows a group of social media-obsessed young adults (played by Maria Bakalova, Amandla Stenberg, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott and others) who get stuck in a mansion after a raging hurricane knocks out their power. To entertain themselves, they decide to play a game (the same as the film's title) in which a designated murderer “kills” someone by tagging them, leaving the remaining players to determine who the culprit is (Think: a real-life version of “Among Us”). Panic and chaos ensues when one of them turns up dead.

Reijn said she wanted to examine the language of how Gen-Zers defined themselves using TikTok and other social media platforms today — and what happens when those same identities become weaponized.

“When I was young, when I had a panic attack, I tried to hide it. I wouldn’t even know what word to use for it,” Reijn said. “Now we’re living in a time where we have access to so much information.”

She continued: “Everybody knows all these words and has all of this vocabulary, but are we really communicating? Are we really looking into each other’s eyes, or is it through a screen?”

That question is palpable throughout the film, which rarely contains a scene without a phone present.

“It’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ meets ‘Mean Girls,’” Reijn said. “‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ was such a great vehicle to actually create a script that would deal with group behavior, human nature: Is the killer outside, or is the killer inside?”

As the night progresses and the remaining survivors investigate their friend's death, distrust is sown and relationships are broken. And with no power or cell service, what's left?

"A beast," according to Reijn. "We all have a dark undercurrent in there."

Regardless of age and identity, Reijn said she also hopes the film reveals something more "animalistic, raw and honest" about human nature — and that it spurs viewers to heed its warning: Get off your phone.

“We are all so addicted to our phones," she said. "We’re not really in the moment, we’re not really looking at each other, and we’re not really looking at what’s going on in the world."