Jennifer's Body (2009) - Dread Central
Connect with us

Reviews

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Published

on

Jennifer's BodyReviewed by Mike Cameron, The Substream

Starring Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody

Directed by Karyn Kusama


Jennifer’s Body comes loaded with a pretty big freight of expectation. It’s Diablo Cody’s first script since her Oscar winning Juno, for one thing, and for another, it’s pneumatic robot-bait starlet Megan Fox’s first high-profile role outside the Transformers films which demanded of her only the ability to look sweaty, hit her mark, and have really impressive bone structure.

Is Cody’s slang-laced pop culture patois going to get tiring? Is Megan Fox able to … express emotions? Director Karyn Kusama’s film has as much or more cinematic interest as a significant milestone early in the careers of women like Cody and Fox, who seem possibly preordained, blessed and golden, to have enormous impact on Hollywood filmmaking, as it does interest for a dude who likes scary movies, you know, with demons and junk.

Which is good because the film itself isn’t that great. Fox plays the titular Jennifer, who through some ham-handed Satan worshipin’ by a local mascara’d indie band finds herself possessed by a succubus-like demon. Needy, played by Amanda Seyfried, is the Betty to Fox’s murderous Veronica and watches helplessly as her best friend cuts a swath through their town’s population of horny teenage boys. It’s an odd amalgam that doesn’t quite hang together in any satisfying, compelling way while still boasting storytelling elements that are miles more interesting and sophisticated than the muddy average of all the film’s scenes. It’s poorly paced and never scary, but there are a handful or three scenes that approach the eeriness of, well, if not The Shining, then maybe the pretty eerie Johnathan Glazer directed video for “Karmacoma” by Massive Attack that was inspired by The Shining.

Jennifer's BodyAnd surprisingly, it’s not Cody’s famously attention-grabbing oddball dialogue that sucks the spookiness out of some of what should be the scary scenes in the film, it’s that the film has pinned to its sleeve half of the accoutrements of a horror film – the setup, the demon, the small town, the spooky rotten set-dec – without supporting them with any real careful adhesion to the more technical traditions of the genre. There are no real HOLY SHIT jump-scare moments in the film, no shadows-of-feet-under-the-closet-door quiet moments to build tension. It says it’s a horror film, but it’s not.

Which is a shame, because underneath all of the stuff that doesn’t quite work is a film about teenage girl best friends that is spectacular. The relationship between Needy and Jennifer rings totally true, even as it descends into bloody mayhem, and is by far the most compelling thing in the film. This is down to Cody’s script. Unlike in her first film Juno, where everyone seems to live in a hyper-witty pop-culture minutiae literate alt-universe with some language that’s somehow related to English, Cody in the script for Jennifer’s Body confines most of her famous argot to the two teen best-friend girls. It’s a “secret language” filled with in-jokes and very real-seeming tics and hiccups that annoy the rest of the characters in the film. It’s not just fun and funny and Cody/Tarantinoish, it’s real solid character work, and it makes their friendship the best bit in the film. It’s good enough, and rare enough a thing to see done (as most teen girl movies are made for the tween demo, seemingly, brainless where Jennifer’s Body, at least, is not) that I’d recommend the film despite the failure of its central stated goal: being scary.

The performances are great: Fox is legitimately good as the Demon Babe, consistently hitting the rightish note in a role that would be really easy to blow up into pantomime sex-bot ridiculousness. On the meta-level, coming off as she was at the time her star-if-not-making-then-beginning-to-make turn in Transformers, it’s nice to see Fox take a role that will ultimately be overshadowed by her co-star’s. Jennifer’s Body is not going to do much for Fox’s career, but it should do tons for Amanda Seyfried’s. It’s her movie entirely, from start to finish, and it’s odd but not unexpected that, from looking at the film’s promo material, you’d never know she was in the film. Cody will go on, Seyfried and Fox will go on, they’ll all have interesting full careers, and their collaboration will go down as a film whose quirky combo of genres and styles produced a handful of standout moments and scenes but ultimately never gelled.

3 out of 5

Discuss Jennifer’s Body in our Dread Central forums!

Continue Reading
Comments

News

American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

Published

on

Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

Sending
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
Continue Reading

News

Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

Published

on

We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

Continue Reading

Reviews

Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

Published

on

Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

Sending
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
Continue Reading

Recent Comments

Advertisement

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!

Trending

Copyright © 2017 Dread Central Media LLC