Monday, October 12, 2009

Jennifer's Body

Here be no spoilers, so don't worry.

Jennifer's Body
, for those of you not in the know, is the story of two girls, Jennifer and Needy. After a horrible fire at the local watering hole, Jennifer, in a daze, finds herself going off with a group of indie musicians in their mystery van--and no, she doesn't get rushed to the hospital to get her stomach pumped to remove gallons of semen. But she does develop a taste for human boy-flesh. It's up to Needy, Jennifer's best friend, to save the town of Devil's Kettle from the evil that is Jennifer.

And yes, there will be snark. No, not because I want to mindlessly leap on the Megan Fox hate bandwagon. Or because it was the worst film I ever saw--it gets a passing but not mindblowing C+/B- grade from me. But because due to the dearth of intelligent stuff out there, I know this movie will get more cred than it deserves. I fear that the alternatively minded teens who are no longer girls, yet not quite women, who are too smart for 90210 and Melrose Place redux, not mainstream enough for Vampire Diaries and not Canadian enough for Ginger Snaps will flock to this movie, unaware that there are way better horror movies out there that that feature slightly smaller and less famous tits.

The film is perfectly mediocre but full of eye candy, and it'll get a lot of young people thinking that dressing up like Jennifer is hawt, and even more "alternative" (read: cleavage bearing) than dressing up as Bella Swan! Demon girls are so the next cat girls. Take this shot of Jennifer when she comes back from hanging out with the indie band:

I'd be shocked if Hot Topic didn't start stocking red distressed leggings designed to look as though bloody flesh is being ripped from your legs.

And for the cute and vaguely popular girl who wants to experiment with a new look, but is scared at the thought of looking too edgy, there's the flag twirling outfit.

You can always add it to your wishlist under sparkle glitter, Emily the Strange Eyeliner, and Twilight sponsored DuWop lip venom. (And the fact that this lackluster lip plumper pads Stephenie Meyer's bank account is yet another reason why it's one of the most overrated of Sephora's top-rated beauty products of last year.)

And come on. By spring formal time, you know every girl who, in a bygone era, (by which I mean the eighties) would have taken a pair of shears to a cute pink vintage dress while playing the Psychedelic Furs in the background, will be resorting to some variation of this:

Grab a white dress off the rack, head to Ricky's for some fake blood, and voila. The generation who's probably never heard of Carrie, or Prom Night, will think they've come up with the hippest thing since blood red jeggings(TM).

And finally, this film simply reinforces the notion that in Girl World, Halloween is an excuse to sport something slutty without hearing any bitchy comments through the grapevine. Will any girls dress up as anything remotely creative, like a missing milk carton kid or Frankentist (half Frankenstein, half dentist)? No, your average girl will just sport a cleavage bearing tank top, a tiny schoolgirl kilt, cork heels, and a red lipsticked mouth slathered in Clamato juice and decide she's being Transgressive.

The film's main problem? The filmmakers were way too afraid to lose their "Megan Fox is a goddess" fanbase by portraying Jennifer as the genuine monster she is. Despite the tag line of "Hell is a teenage girl," and a few gory scenes, the most frightening thing about Jennifer seems to be, horror of horrors, that she'll steal your boyfriend, wear a sexier dress than you, and go behind your back to tell all your friends about the time you got your first period in a restaurant bathroom and had a complete meltdown because you thought you were hemorrhaging to death. Sure, there are a few scares, but let's get real--Megan Fox is never going to face the problem of Linda Blair or Anthony Perkins of being typecast into a horrifying role. Compared with the title character of Ginger Snaps where the lady really is a tiger, Jennifer's about as threatening as a Bratz doll. (Hey, they both have that eerie uncanny valley thing going.)

Which brings me to my greatest pet peeve with certain horror movies with regard to the transformation theme. There's nothing horrifying about a metamorphosis--whether it's into a gigantic bug or a bloodthirsty teen--if you don't lose something of yourself in the process. The protagonists of Jennifer's Body and Twilight blossom into creatures of the night so effortlessly, that it's enough to make you wonder if there are some hideous portraits of Nosferatus or succubi in an attic somewhere. There's so little self doubt or fear about the transformation that it makes Jason Patric's ambivalence towards becoming a vampire in The Lost Boys seem on par with MacBeth's "dagger" monologue by comparison. (Is that a sparkle I see before me?)

And though I snarked the wardrobe choices, they're not inherently bad. The movie just felt like an excuse for Diablo Cody to take all the elements she's seen in other horror films and make a pretty montage out of it. If you want a horror movie you can play dress up with, Jennifer's Body is your pick. But this Halloween, if you want some genuinely horrifying movies about the bloodier sex, I recommend The Exorcist, Ginger Snaps, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, Heavenly Creatures, Carrie, The Bad Seed, and the Masters of Horror episode directed by Dario Argento entitled, appropriately enough, Jenifer. (And for afterwards, when you need a bit of light comic relief--Teeth!) Those are all movies where you'd have to be one psychologically twisted puppy with at least eight DSM diagnoses to even think about wanting to emulate the main characters. And of course, they all have the Sadako Seal of Approval.