As a huge horror fan people seem to gasp in surprise when I admit I like (maybe even love) 'Jennifer's Body'. I've tried to wrap my head around the mediocre 5.1 rating it has and the only conclusion I can come to is that people are setting their expectations too high.
This movie is not a real contender in the horror genre and loosely plays around with horror rather than fully immersing itself in it. For that reason, this movie isn't the right one for anyone that's looking for a true horror experience.
The combination of Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried makes a surprisingly good combination. And whilst we all know Megan Fox is a sub-par actress that gets by on her sexual charisma and good looks, she does bring a vulnerability and hidden depth to Jennifer's character. Although she's initially portrayed as the stereotypical beautiful popular girl that's head cheerleader and the girl all the guys want to date and every other girl wants to be, it's clear that beneath that there's actually a very insecure and confused little girl.
Amanda Seyfried's performance as Jennifer's best friend, Needy is fantastic and it's no secret that she carried the movie and was the perfect contrast against Megan's weaker performance. Needy is a sympathetic character who viewers can get on-board with and root for. Despite the insanity of the situation she's propelled into, she handles it with logic and practicality.
Sure, the movie is saturated with sex, gore and crack humour cliches you'd expect in a teen flick, but it also has much more to offer. 'Jennfier's Body' has a lot more depth to it than what may be perceived on first appearances.
The friendship between the two girls - Jennifer and Needy - is really central to the story and is very representative of the struggles teenage girls go through. The competitiveness, envy, jealousy, loyalty, insecurity, closeness and muddled emotions involved in female/female friendships is explored from many different angles and very reflective of what a lot of girls go through.
The characters of Jennifer and Needy themselves are much more complex and multi-layered than a lot of characters in these types of movies. Although she's characterised as a nerd, Needy supersedes that stereotype very early on by proving herself to be very resourceful, witty, intelligent, sweet and relatable. However, by the end of the movie circumstance has forced Needy to become a different person - more violent and tough. As a viewer it's almost impossible not to sympathise with Needy, who for all intents and purposes was an ordinary high school girl that was dragged into a hellish nightmare and had to live with the consequences for the rest of her life.
As for Jennifer, although she's largely portrayed as an antagonist and taken as such my a majority of viewers, if you dig a little deeper she's as much of a victim as Needy. Although Jennifer is formulated upon cliche tropes and stereotypes, what's often missed is that Jennifer's sexual appetite in this movie is very much a metaphor for her underlying confusion regarding her own sexuality. The idea of Jennifer being bisexual or gay is played with throughout the movie, but upon rewatching it, it becomes clear that it exists whether it's being spoken about or not. One of the opening lines to the movie is and I quote, "You're totally lesbi-gay". The references don't end there. There's mention of Jennifer and Needy playing "moms and dads" when they were children, Jennifer's inappropriate jealousy over Needy's relationship with her boyfriend Chip, there's even a kiss between Jennifer and Needy and if that doesn't make it obvious, Jennifer makes a statement at the end that goes something like, "I go both ways." Whilst initially all of these references can be passed off as bad stabs at humour, they can also be perceived as much more subtle hints of Jennifer's struggle with her sexuality and feelings towards girls or more specifically, Needy. In ignoring or overlooking these details, the fundamental story of Jennifer's character is misconstrued and she really does come across as the air-headed cheerleader she's presented to us as being. When in reality, her sexual promiscuity, obsession with boys and emphasis on her physicality is just a mask for her underlying issues.
Putting the characterisation of Needy and Jennifer aside, the plot of the movie is well paced and develops in a satisfying way. The mystery of what happened to Jennifer isn't unnecessarily dragged out, but the reveal doesn't lessen the intrigue of the story even if it is somewhat predictable. The dialogue is cheesy as hell at times but it elevates the teen-ness of it. Although I wouldn't classify it as being a horror in the traditional sense there are definitely some chilling moments in there (the one that comes to mind takes place in Needy's kitchen, you'll know the one I'm talking about when you see it and the scenes in the van), and if you're able to look past the surface of the dialogue and humour, there's some very serious underlying themes of victim shaming, struggles with self-identity and sexuality, friendship and right vs wrong.
Overall, 'Jennifer's Body' is a very satisfying viewing if you're able to scratch beneath the surface, dig deeper and look beyond the overused horror tropes and dry humour.
Action / Comedy / Fantasy / Horror
Action / Comedy / Fantasy / Horror
Nerdy, reserved bookworm Needy Lesnicki, and arrogant, conceited cheerleader Jennifer Check are best friends, though they share little in common. They share even less in common when Jennifer mysteriously gains an appetite for human blood after a disastrous fire at a local bar. As Needy's male classmates are steadily killed in gruesome attacks, the young girl must uncover the truth behind her friend's transformation and find a way to stop the bloodthirsty rampage before it reaches her own boyfriend Chip.
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August 12, 2012 at 04:35 PM