All film genres undergo changes throughout the years. Many of these alterations are due to advances in the technology surrounding film making while others are propped by changes in the socially acceptable standards and morality. It may be difficult to believe in this modern era but in 1931 the movie ‘’Frankenstein’ was censored for horrific content and the scandalous line ‘now I know what it feels like to Be God’. Today horror has been pushed into a direction that many find upsetting. Special effects are at a level now where bloodshed and gore can be depicted with revolting attention to detail. Many film makers have taken this new technology to extremes creating the current fad of depicting torture as a major plot point. Gallons of stage blood and an overuse of gratuitous sex and nudity have degraded this once proud gene into the nadir of puerile content with little if any originality. As such the bar for success in this lamentable genre has generally fallen so low that a movie with even a glimmer of originality can seem better than it is. One example of this is ‘Jennifer’s Body’. The film had enormous media hype paired with a cast and crew with proven audience appeal. The film has a number of flaws mostly from a technical standpoint. What needs to be noted here is the movie represents an honest attempt to provide a modicum of novel twist to the flick. Part of this is a departure from what has become the de facto standard expected by horror fans. As such the box office and general acceptance by the critical community were not up to the hopeful expectations of the producers. There is some bloodshed present and a touch of implied nudity but even in the unrated DVD release there is little that comes close to what the jaded horror aficionados have become used to seeing. This restraint undoubtedly cost the flick but personally it is refreshing to see a horror movie that attempts to tell a story. The movie had a budget of about $16 million and just managed at squeak by to recoup that in the theaters but will certainly turn a profit on the un-rated Blu-ray and DVD editions.
The director for this film, Karyn Kusama, doesn’t have a very long resume but what there is demonstrates a predilection for female oriented films and television which includes episodes of ‘The L Word’, ‘Girl fight’ and ‘Æon Flux’. In this film there is a strong thread of female empowerment by not only has the demonic villain but the one charged with stopping her was female as well. This is different from the more typical damsel in distress being rescued by the handsome male lead. Kusama makes a wise decision to not take this story down the usual horror path instead opting for the more difficult format of the dark comedy. This afforded her the opportunity to play with the genre’s requirements resulting in a tongue in cheek satire of the genre rendering the film more effective when considered in that light. The direction is fast paced moving along at a good clip infusing some of the background and exposition by means of nicely placed flashbacks. There is sufficient attention given to the two main characters to permit them to come across as realistically drawn people instead of the faceless victims that populate horror films today.
Much of this is due to the skill of the author of the screenplay, Diablo Cody, winner of the Academy Award for her freshman work, ‘Juno’. While the subject matter couldn’t be more different there is a marked similarity to the fundamental style and feel. Ms Cody gives the audience a quickly moving story with snappy teen oriented dialog that may be more intense than we parents would like to think but most likely is a rather accurate representation of how kids of this age relate to each other. Cody also had a good deal of creative input as the executive producer and her now famous acerbic wit shines through her. While the film does admittedly fail as a straight horror film it works as a truly black comedy. Anita Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) better known to her friends as ‘Needy, has been best friends with Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) for practically her entire life. The friendship is far from equal with Jennifer the undisputed dominate of the pair. Needy has lived in Jennifer’s shadow always amazed at the willingness her friend has to be adventurous frequently to the point of being reckless. A prime example happens on one fateful night when Jennifer talks Needy into going to an over twenty one club to see an Indy band, ‘Low Shoulder’. Jennifer goes off with the band leaving Needy there alone when a fire breaks out. In the resulting mayhem several people are killed and Needy sees a blood cover Jennifer in the road. Soon the dismembered partially eaten bodies of local boys start popping up around town. Needy is somehow able to discern Jennifer is involved and soon realizes that she is completely responsible. It turns out that the band thinks there only shot at success is a demonic contract and that a virgin sacrifice is in order. The only problem is it has been a long time since Jennifer qualified for such a ceremony. The result was Jennifer is turned into a demon that requires fresh human flesh and blood to survive. There will be some out there that will watch this flick for a shot a watching Megan Fox. If you hope to see here sans clothing it is not going to happen here; go online for some behind the scenes shot and while you are there get the clip of Fox and Seyfried making. This is a rare horror flick with a plot so get it for that reason. The young ladies are talented and provide a better than average performance.
Includes Both The Original Theatrical And Unrated