(dir. Karyn Kusama)
Despite the fact that many horror movies have comedic elements (sometimes intentional, but more often not), the horror-comedy sub-genre is a tough category for a film to exist in. Outside of the zom-com and the dire Scary Movie/Haunted House “spoofs,” horror-comedy is difficult to market. Jennifer’s Body has it even tougher as a horror-comedy that also serves as an allegory of the “BFF” phase of adolescent girls. The film is mostly told in retrospect by Needy, a high-school girl who witnesses her friend, Jennifer, become a man-eating demon, proving the notion that “hell is a teenage girl.”
The script by Diablo Cody (fresh off of her Oscar win for Juno) doesn’t cater towards broad comedy, rather it mixes understated dark humor with camp. Tonally it’s an odd mix that I think worked for it (it’s debt to Sam Rami is evident). Cody’s voice is unique and the dialogue is original, a necessity for a film toying with high school clichés. Though not all the clever remarks and witticisms hit their mark, they mostly do. Cody has her own style and the language is always interesting, and while sometimes forced, the intent rings true.
Needy’s obsessive relationship with Jennifer is satirical but also provides astute commentary on the relationships of high school girls. The film never goes into Heavenly Creatures territory, but there is something disturbing about their near lack of concern for anyone but each other. With the exception of Needy’s boyfriend and some guys Jennifer eats, their relationship is oddly sealed off from the rest of the school. It is Jennifer’s man-eating ways and her obsession with the band responsible for her possession that drives a wedge in between her friendship with Needy. It’s a rather clever use of the defining adolescent interests of sex and music. While I think audiences (some hopeful, some weary) expected the film to be an exploitation of Megan Fox’s then sex symbol status, Jennifer’s Body is far more interesting and sexually sensitive than that. As a horror-comedy about women, written and directed by women, it really is a film that offers a unique perspective that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Scare Factor: 1/5 It’s not necessarily scary, and the humor isn’t always laugh out loud, but the film takes on quite a lot of themes and ideas which creates a strange and fun horror-comedy. While it’s a little rough around the edges at some points, Jennifer’s Body is smarter and more topical than it gets credit for.