by Jason Coffman
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Circumstances were not kind to Jennifer’s Body. Arriving at the apex of a double backlash against Diablo Cody (the film’s screenwriter) and Megan Fox (playing the title role), any discussion of the actual quality of the film itself was drowned out by legions of critics trying to prove they hated one or the other more than anyone else. Unfortunately, what many people missed in the outcry against sassy dialogue is a fun, unique take on horror by women and for women.
Jennifer’s Body is one of the few horror films that is centered on the kind of close friendship specific to women— the kind of relationship that drives films like Ginger Snaps and Heavenly Creatures. Needy (Amanda Seyfried) and Jennifer (Megan Fox) have been best friends since childhood. Or, as Needy puts it: “Sandbox love never dies.” Even though Jennifer is head of the cheerleading squad and Needy is mousy and bookish, they remain as close as ever, to the point where Needy’s boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons) feels a little weirded out and annoyed that Jennifer keeps “kidnapping” his girlfriend.
One night Jennifer convinces Needy to go see a local band at a dive bar. After a bizarre accident causes the bar to burn to the ground, the band disappears with Jennifer and Needy makes her way home. Later that night Jennifer visits, but something’s wrong, including the fact that she vomits sentient black goo all over Needy’s kitchen floor. Before long Jennifer is starting to look like the “normal girls,” and only eating boys will bring her back to her glamorous, supernaturally charged self. And Chip is starting to look pretty tasty…
Jennifer’s Body is an outstanding horror/comedy hybrid, carried by an excellent performance by Megan Fox as Jennifer. Given little more to do in the Transformers films than sweat and look worried, Fox admirably tears into the part of the demonic cheerleader. She’s clearly not concerned about looking rough, spending a good part of the movie covered in blood, bruises, and black ichor. Jennifer is sexy and terrifying in turns, one of the best female villains in recent horror films. The rest of the cast is solid, with a particularly good cameo role by J.K. Simmons as a hook-handed teacher.
Jennifer’s Body is a severely overlooked gem. Ignore the backlash and give it a chance, you’ll probably be surprised. I guarantee this is going to be a cult classic in years to come.
Jennifer’s Body was released by 20th Century Fox on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 29th. The DVD features both unrated and theatrical versions of the film, with different commentaries for each. The Blu-ray disc features both cuts of the film, commentaries, as well as deleted scenes and featurettes.
Jason Coffman is a film critic living in Chicago.
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