Director, cast of ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ talk acting in horror, picking roles, prepping for intensity

Noah Levine, Life & Arts Film Columnist

“Bodies Bodies Bodies,” a horror-comedy hybrid from the iconic company A24, contains an impressive ensemble cast featuring Rachel Sennott (“Shiva Baby”), Chase Sui Wonders (“Generation”), Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”), Pete Davidson (“The King of Staten Island”), Lee Pace (“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”), Myha’la Herrold (“Plan B”) and Amandla Stenberg (“The Hunger Games”).

Before premiering at Austin’s very own Paramount Theatre, the director and some of the cast stopped by the SXSW red carpet, where The Daily Texan spoke to them about their new horror-comedy flick.

The Daily Texan: What’s the secret sauce to making an effective horror film?

Halina Reijn: I come from the theater, so I am an amateur with horror. Violence and humor mixed together is thrilling. It reminded me of the theater, where we are very radical, especially in Europe. I could be free with this film. My first film was raw realism, and here, the horror gave me the freedom to be abstract and crazy — human behavior! We all have a beast inside of us — all of us! We all have this sadist in us, and it will come out under the right circumstances. That is what this film is about.

DT: What’s your approach to working with an ensemble cast?

HR: It’s a lot. This is an incredibly electrifying cast, but I did prepare like a soldier because I was like, “When I have those seven people in front of me, I need to know exactly what to do.” I choreographed all the scenes beforehand, so I was open to their input when we were actually on set, but it was amazing. I’m most proud of them, they carry the film. They are also the attraction of the film. They’re so seductive, they’re sexy, they’re annoying, they’re toxic, they are everything. They are so fun to watch, and then they kill each other!

DT: What’s the biggest difference when working on a horror film versus any other genre?

Rachel Sennott: Someone’s going to die. It’s more the genre you know you’re in where you’re like, “Something bad is gonna happen.” Something bad happens in most movies — that’s what makes it a movie. It puts you in that world where the movie starts, and you’re on the edge of your seat like, “Who’s it gonna be? What’s gonna happen?” Which I love, it’s so fun!

DT: With such a diverse amount of roles played in your career, what gets you excited to take on a new role?

Lee Pace: What got me excited about this role, I saw a movie our director did called “Instinct,” (and) I thought it was so surprising, tense and fascinating. When we read the script, I was really curious to see what she was going to do with that. I had a great time shooting it. I’m really excited to see it with an audience, with people that know nothing about it.

DT: Is horror a genre you want to continue working in?

Chase Sui Wonders: I love horror. Horror is something that I’m absolutely terrified of, so to do it and peek behind the curtain was both illuminating and also made me excited to do more in the future.

DT: As an actor, what worked best for you to prepare for the tense horror scenes?

Myha’la Herrold: I haven’t done horror before, so like any other project, the first thing I do is know the script top to tail. (I) know as much as I can about my character and what (their) function is in the entire story. Also, I would say be prepared for surprises and changes to happen as they go along because once you get started there’s always more.

DT: Do you have a favorite memory from filming that you’d like to share?

MH: The moment in which we all bonded, the girls at least, … was filming the outdoor stuff. There was intense weather to say the least, and we all shared something special in that moment.