High school as a metaphor for horror has been done to grisly, bloody death. So walking in to Jennifer’s Body, I expected familiar territory. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find the metaphor much more specific this time around. Instead of the usual teen angst bullsh*t, we get a very clever, surprisingly harrowing depiction of the horrors of female friendship. Jennifer’s Body earns a place on the shelf, alongside the likes of Heathers and Mean Girls. Women can be vicious, the movie warns, whether possessed by a demon or not, so you better hold on to your boyfriend and whatever self-esteem you have, because high school girls are out for blood. In this case, literally.
Jennifer’s Body stars current “it girl” Megan Fox, who has become more famous for her outrageous interviews than her thespian skills in the Transformers movies. I really didn’t know what to expect from her as an actress, but was impressed with her portrayal of Jennifer as a girl driven by her basest desires, before and after the demon moves in. Amanda Seyfried plays her best friend Needy, which is a rather ironic misnomer, since we soon discover that it’s Jennifer who needs so much from Needy, not the other way around. You may remember Amanda from Mamma Mia, which is slightly less scary than Jennifer’s Body. Jennifer is the kind of girl who hops into a van with the creepy band in town for a gig, while Needy looks on, paralyzed in her role as Jennifer’s wingman (wingwoman?). As the events of that fateful night unfold, and the body count around school starts growing, Needy must take on a new role, independent of Jennifer’s desires, and stand up to the BFF from hell.
Written by Juno scribe Diablo Cody, the dialogue in Jennifer’s Body is self-conscious and over-the-top, especially in the beginning of the film. But as reality becomes heightened and we plunge into the supernatural, the wacky teen banter suddenly feels just right, much the same way the dialogue in Buffy served as such an effective counterpoint to the surrounding horror. Cody clearly knows her stuff when it comes to the complexities of female friendship, and the love, lust, hormones, competition and betrayal wrapped up in that age. While expectations for Cody are extremely high following her Oscar win, I don’t think Jennifer’s Body is the feminist reinvention of the horror movie, as so many critics seem to be expecting. Instead, Jennifer’s Body strikes just the right tone between comedy and horror, asking its characters and its audience the question: What’s scarier? Flesh-eating demons from hell? Or your best friend telling you what she really thinks of you?
On the FBOTU Scale of Fabulousness, I give Jennifer’s Body 4 out of 5 demonic emoticons: