Monday, October 5, 2009

THE RETURN OF 31 DAYS OF HORROR: #5 Jennifer's Body

Well after all that trouble with the Polanksi article time to move onto something nice and uncontroversial. Like Diablo Cody. Aw Crap.

Diablo Cody may never have raped a child, but according to her detractors, she’s done much much worse. I find it odd that it seems to be the people who constantly bitch that there are no new and unique voices in the movies today are usually the ones who complain about Diablo Cody the most. What they seem to mean is that there are no original voices they approve of.

To be fair I can actually sympathize with the Diablo haters a bit. I had such a bad reaction to the first ten minutes of Juno that it was nearly chemical. I thought as soon as she talked with her parents the movie righted itself and became a warm, funny, very human drama. But for those for whom it didn’t, the knives were out.

Yeah Cody’s not perfect, sure she’s a little in love with the sound of her own voice, but what young writer isn’t? When her critics talk about her overuse of slang in dialogue, they forget to mention the way it’s used by the characters to mask their insecurities. When they talk about her supposed condescension of working class people, they forget to mention that Cody, God love her, actually seems to LIKE them, and seems to have actually spent some time around them, and know them on a basis that’s more then purely theoretical. The little details are right. Like the fact you don’t want to eat the Boston Market Chicken that Mom’s saving for her night shift, or that the little sister is going to be shoved into the prom pictures because damnit you’re dressed nice and that doesn’t happen everyday!

And yeah she could stand to take the Codyism’s that permeate her work down a notch or five. But she’s an intelligent funny writer who seems to actually give a crap if her movies are good or not, which really puts her in pretty rare company.

Jennifer’s Body is the story of two friends the shy withdrawn Needy (LILY KANE!) and bad girl Jennifer (Megan Fox doing her best to channel a demonic Jayne Mansfield). They go to an indie rock show, where Jennifer is singled out to be the virgin sacrifice to Satan by the lame band, led by a hilariously deadpan Adam Brody. Being that Jennifer is not a Virgin she comes back a succubus and starts devouring the town’s male population.

Jennifer’s Body, definitely gives off an eighties vibe. It’s got some great gore gags, a cast of characters just waiting for a disposing, and most importantly IT’S FUN! As I wrote in my Review of Friday The 13th TOTALLY XTREME!!! The problem with Nu Horror, isn’t so much the violence, or over tinted photography, but the fact that these movies contain nothing that even vaguely resembles fun either for us or the characters. Jennifer’s Body has got that in spades.

Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t take it seriously. People seem to be downplaying just how scary this movie is. It’s not The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it has some real moments. The scene where Jennifer shows up in Needy’s living room bleeding, and hacking up unidentified black matter, has a real almost Lynchian sense of unease to it.

Jennifer’s Body isn’t perfect and a lot of what it does wrong sums up what it is that Cody does wrong. The scene where Jennifer is sacrificed, what should be the dark heart of the movie, is defused with an admittedly funny, though utterly pointless joke involving 867-5309. Some of the characters, lapse into characture, JK Simmons being the worst offender. And all too often Cody will sacrifice common sense for a clever line.

But on the whole Jennifer’s Body is a likable funny genre film which the people who made it actually seem to care about it. It’s a programmer in the best sense of the word. And though it may have failed at the Box Office, I have a feeling times going to be kind to this one.


Vern said...

Good review. I think you liked it a more than I did, but I don't think this movie got a fair shake. It started with the marketing, which was stupidly aimed at boys hot for Megan Fox when it's actually the rare horror movie with a female point of view. Unless young girls idolize Megan Fox I think they were reaching for the wrong audience there, so no wonder it failed money-wise.

But I agree, it's pretty fun and I think will catch on a little more on video. Not a huge amount more, but more.

deadlydolls said...

I really don't understand why poor Diablo Cody was dubbed the Antichrist of Hollywood for writing one movie that was a hit. I don't think Juno is a masterpiece, but it has once it finds its voice, it's a fine film.

What I really liked about Jennifer's Body is that you totally got that Cody loves horror. My biggest issue with it was the direction. I don't think Kusama (sic?) understood what tone to go for, especially in the more genre scenes. Still, it was funny, perfectly played by Seyfried (who is one of the most likable yet still interesting young actresses of today) and Fox, who did exactly what she should have been doing. Although the fact that she blew this movie off on SNL totally lost my respect for her.

The marketing was way off and it's a shame this film got lost. I just wish the people that are attacking it had actually seen it.

Nice review!

Bryce Wilson said...

Thanks to the both of you.