Thursday, 5 November 2009

Jennifer's Body

Jennifer's Body
Karyn Kusama
20th Century Fox

In Cinemas Now
Review by Brad Harmer

Insecure bookworm Anita "Needy" Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) and arrogant, popular cheerleader Jennifer Check (Megan Fox – Bad Boys II) have been best friends since they were about three and four - wearing matching heart-shaped lockets to signify this bond, although they actually share very little in common. One night, Jennifer insists Needy come to a local bar to attend a concert by indie rock band Low Shoulder, where Jennifer soon develops a crush on their lead singer, Nikolai Wolf. While flirting with Jennifer, Nikolai and the rest of the band conclude that she is a virgin – just what they need to pull a Robert Johnson and sell their soul for rock star success...

Unfortunately for them, Jennifer is not a virgin, and so instead of dying, she winds up becoming a hideous man-eating demon cheerleading bitch hybrid. And so the monster goes mental killing people and the whole thing goes down the high school horror movie route. Written by Juno’s Diablo Cody (no, not her real name), Jennifer’s Body may contain many of the tropes and trappings of your bog-standard High School Horror Movie – but the good news is that the parts it doesn’t do with an original take on things, it does very well. The gore work is excellent, the parts well cast and J.K. Simmons’ (J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man trilogy) mildly deranged teacher is an excellent comedic foil to the darkness in the rest of the story.

Unlike most teen slashers of the I Know What You Did Last Summer variety, Jennifer’s Body manages to get a creepy vibe without hammering it home with jump cuts and orchestra hits. When the undead Jennifer staggers home from her murderising and creeps into Needy’s house in a bizarrely concussed state, the atmosphere is so tense its almost solid. Your eyes are constantly flitting across the scene looking for a sign of movement – and once Jennifer makes herself known, things get creepier...



Be warned, though, there are a few things that will doubtless make you cringe. The emo/teen-rock soundtrack (except for an appreance by The Sword – how did that happen?) and the snarky teen-slang heavy dialogue will likely irk the young (especially when it flat-out makes slang up...has anyone ever heard the word “Salty” as a synonym for “sexually attractive” before?) and make anyone over the age of twenty feel painfully old. The whole thing smacks of a desperate attempt to be subversive, ignorant of the fact it’s produced by a major studio and stars the girls from Transformers and Mamma Mia!. Seriously, if you’re going to be mainstream just embrace it. There’s room for both mainstream and underground in this little genre we call “horror”.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Several moments of gore and violence, including unarmed and weapon based combat, and fantasy violence.
Swearing: An abundance.
Sex/Nudity: Some make out scenes, but nothing explicit. There some lesbian action, though. So “Win”, I guess.
Summary: Far from the sardonic half-knowing subversive horror movie it thinks it is, but a pretty damn good horror movie anyway. Worth checking out if you’re a horror fan. 8/10

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