March 30, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Jennifer's Body

Title: Jennifer's Body
Starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody
Director: Karyn Kusama
Released: Fox Atomic (2009)

Back in September, I had some less than complimentary things to say about Megan Fox's rise to fame--click here to read. Spurred then by the hype of Jennifer's Body, I felt like ranting. Now that I've had a chance to see the movie, I feel like ranting a little more. I've already said my piece about Megan Fox, so I'll try to focus on the other aspects of this movie. It's not easy though, as she did have the title role.

Coming from Diablo Cody, I expected a movie with plenty of witty barbs and a lean towards the satirical. I got that. But I also expected a quality horror film. In that regard, Jennifer's Body didn't measure up. I think Cody was going for less '80s slasher fare and more 90s teen fright fest. It felt like the movie wanted to be Scream, but it kind of ended up in I Know What You Did Last Summer territory.

While Megan Fox has the role of Jennifer, she's really a supporting character and antagonist to Amanda Seyfried who plays Needy, Jennifer's best friend. Needy tags along with Jennifer to a local bar to see a band from "the city" Jennifer discovered on MySpace (are people still using MySpace?). When the place catches fire and mayhem ensues, Jennifer is whisked away by the band and sacrificed to Satan to ensure the band's success. They think she's a virgin, but she's not even close and winds up being resurrected by a demon to become a bloodthirsty, boy-hunting temptress. This is followed by a few vicious murders, Needy's shocking realization her friend is evil, and the inevitable showdown.

I really wanted to love this movies, preconceptions be damned. I liked Cody's first film, Juno, so I felt it unfair to dismiss this one because of Megan Fox snagging the spotlight. But Fox is not a talented actress and whatever sizzle there is with regards to her current it-girl status is drowned out by the fact that she brings nothing remarkable to the role or the movie. Amanda Seyfried is the star by far, as she takes a character nearly equal in vapidity and breathes life into her. Mind you, there is an awful, tacked on clairvoyance with the character that's never really explained or explored, and I thought really dragged down the movie for me.

The highlights are the gratuitous schoolgirl love affair moments, the witty barbs in the dialogue, and J.K. Simmons as a feckless high school teacher. The low points come from the almost by-the-numbers approach to the horror elements. Dimwitted boys get killed off, which is a reasonable juxtaposition--I suppose--from the usual dimwitted girls getting hacked to death by maniacs. It's just a shame that the movie doesn't aim higher, rather it takes a lateral approach by simply reversing gender roles. If that's all that's needed to improve and progress horror as a genre then I shall take this time now to weep.

For all my gripes about Jennifer's Body, it's still better than the majority of teen horror romps I've watched over the years. I'd hardly call that high praise, though. Diablo Cody's second crack at the bat was a swing and a miss, in my opinion, and I shall keep my fingers crossed on her third script. I think there's enough movie here to recommend as a rental for slumber parties and horror movie marathons. I just wish there was more to love.

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