Thursday, October 13, 2016

Jennifer's Body

"Hell is a teenage girl." So opens Karyn Kusama's Jennifer's Body. Similar to what Adam Wingard did with The Guest a few years later, it's a throwback to horror movies from the 1980s. (It's just on the more bloody side of things.)

It has all the elements regularly found in 80s-era horror flicks: high school students who'd rather live life than fuss over their studies, the less-than-helpful adults, and the violent climax. It's familiar territory, yes, but it's enough to make it accessible.

And with a script by Diablo Cody, there's a fine line throughout Jennifer's Body between self-parody and taking itself seriously. Between the vapid nature of Jennifer (Megan Fox) and the general frame of mind of -- note the name -- Needy (Amanda Seyfried), Cody might have borrowed a cue or two from Scream. (Which of the two is better is obvious once you've seen both.)

And with Jennifer's Body being both written and directed by women, there's a definitive feminist air to it. Not just because Jennifer and Needy are are viewed as more than just objects but rather there's some actual dimension to them. (Unless they're the "final girl", well-written female characters in horror films tend to be a rarity.)

Jennifer's Body may have been one draft away from being great but it's easily the spiritual successor of Heathers without a doubt. (As anyone who survived high school can attest to, what's shown in both films is unfortunately not too far from reality.) The horror on display may be Jennifer but in reality, it's getting through those four years of hell.

My Rating: ****

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