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Jennifer’s Body Wishes It Could Be A Horror Classic

Jennifer’s Body
Directed by Karyn Kusama
Written by Diablo Cody
Fox, 2009

Perhaps no movie this year, besides Public Enemies, has had more going for it on paper than Jennifer’s Body.  Overnight superstar screenwriter Diablo Cody of Juno fame decided that this would be her big-screen follow-up, and red-hot (in every way) Megan Fox would take the titular role alongside Amanda Seyfried, whose career got a boost with Mamma Mia! last year.  Karyn Kusama, who gained some critical attention 9 years ago with Girlfight (but has been nearly AWOL since, save for Aeon Flux), would direct.  Female power injected itself deeply into the filmmaking process.  And, here’s this nugget: the horror movie audience is more than 50% female at this point.  Imagine that.

Jennifer (Fox) and Needy (Seyfried) are awkward best friends.  Jen’s a hottie, Needy’s one of those nerds that Not Another Teen Movie brilliantly lampooned: she’s hot…but those glasses!  They’ve been best friends for years, but when they go to see a band fronted by singer Nikolai Wolf (played with usual hilarity by Adam Brody) at a dive bar, things are about to change.  Namely, Jennifer is going to change: when a fire at the dive bar claims a few lives and Jen and Needy manage to get out, Nikolai and crew take advantage of a drunk Jen to invite her into their van.  Untold things happen while Needy worries, but Jen returns intact…only covered in blood and vomiting Satanic afterbirth.

Soon after, guys attracted to Jennifer find themselves getting eaten after she seduces them, and it appears that Needy’s boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons, who quietly steals scenes) might be next on her list.

Those of you annoyed by the precocious banter of Juno will almost certainly be put off here.  When Needy wants to mourn the people who died in the bar fire, Jennifer’s response is, “Move on…dot org.”  The referencing of each other by feminine products, “What’s up, Vagisil?”, “Not much, Monistat.”  Frankly, it doesn’t bother me too much, I’m just way more conscious of it now than I was with Juno.  The main problem with the movie is that it’s not very scary, and it doesn’t provide enough laughs to be a knowing horror-comedy.  Don’t get me wrong: Adam Brody and Johnny Simmons provide some really good laughs in this, and Amanda Seyfried made me laugh when she curiously studies her boyfriend putting on a condom.  And, Megan Fox, finally freed from the uber-exploitation of Transformers, seems so much more relaxed and shows much more promise than she ever has.

But the movie violates a big truism brought to our attention more than a decade ago with Scream: It’s a lot scarier when the killer has no motive.  Even though the circumstances by which Jennifer becomes a maneater are pretty amusing, it would have been better if Jennifer was merely changing into a maneater through the craziness of adolescence, which is what the similarly-themed, but a tad more successful in execution, Teeth did a couple of years ago.

This movie isn’t horrible by any means, but this could have been a lot better.

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