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John’s Horror Corner: Jennifer’s Body (2009), the shockingly well-written, well-directed and well-acted movie where Megan Fox is a man-eating demon.

February 6, 2020

MY CALL: I can understand how this may sound like a cheesy raunchy flick about a sexy succubus. But you’d be wrong. This film is more layered and thoughtful than what occurred to me upon first viewing. It’s not sexist or misogynistic. This is an awesome horror film that loves its characters. MORE MOVIES LIKE Jennifer’s Body: For more supernaturally powerful women behaving badly, check out The Craft (1996), Carrie (2013), The Babysitter (2017).

What happens when a down-on-their luck indie band doesn’t follow all the instructions during their virgin sacrifice to win fame and fortune from Satan…? A demon-fueled high school cheerleader with a newfound appetite for boys’ souls to sustain herself and her glowing complexion. And sure, I can totally understand how this may sound to most like a cheesy raunchy trope-tired skin flick about a sexy succubus. But you’d be wrong.

Smartly written and boasting a great dry sense of humor, our story is recounted by Needy (Amanda Seyfried; Lovelace, Red Riding Hood). Friends since their sandbox youth, Needy and Jennifer (Megan Fox; Transformers, Jonah Hex, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) live an interesting symbiosis seesawing Needy’s sincerity and Jennifer’s desperate yet controlling codependence. And despite both being beautiful, Needy’s humility serves prey to Jennifer’s arrogant frailty.

Just a few scenes deep, it’s evident that the editing, storytelling and script are top notch with a style that seems to meld American Beauty (1999) and Mean Girls (2004)… but notably lower brow. Truly, this isn’t just a good horror movie—this is exemplary filmmaking. It saddens me that being a “horror film”, or worse a “horror comedy” about a man-eating succubus, likely cheapens its status among perfunctory movie raters. The “sex” scenes are not exploitative and don’t offer any nudity—at all. The sexuality is all in the social interpersonal dynamics of the characters. In fact, the sexuality reminds me very much of a contemporized Interview with a Vampire (1994), with Needy and Jennifer mirroring Louis and Lestat.

Actually, other aspects of this soul-devouring demon movie follow the tenets of vampirism. Jennifer has a frightful ghoul-like transformation phase (after emerging from her natural death) during which she projectile vomits evil ichor after trying to eat regular food; she uses sexuality to lure male victims to their demise (much as many monsters of folklore and mythology); she becomes invigorated and indestructible (i.e., regeneration) and looks vibrant after feeding, but looks anemic and weak when hungry; and she possesses a sensual love for her best friend.

Director Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux, XX, The Invitation) impresses with every aspect of her filmmaking. Great photography and shots; the gore effects are sloppy and gross and awesome; and steering far from cheap jumpscare fare, there are many abruptly shocking moments. Jennifer’s demonic roar followed by projectile vomitous bile was an exquisitely shocking highlight.

And wow, the cast! Watch out for a deliciously sociopathic Adam Brody (Ready or Not, Yoga Hosers, Scream 4), a likably douche-y Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Passengers, Guardians of the Galaxy), the hilariously deadpan J.K. Simmons (The Snowman, Dark Skies), and solid performances by Amy Sedaris (Stay, Strangers with Candy) and Kyle Gallner (A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Haunting in Connecticut, Red State, The Cleanse).

I find this film to be much more layered and thoughtful than what occurred to most (including myself) upon first viewing. It’s not sexist or misogynistic, it’s not basic, it’s not just some flick. This is an awesome horror film that loves its characters.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2020 8:19 pm

    I felt like I was the only person on Earth who liked this film when it came out. I’m glad to hear I have a few people in my corner.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      February 8, 2020 3:21 pm

      Back in 2009-2010 I liked the movie. 5 years later I liked it a lot. And recently (watching it 3 times in a week in prep for our upcoming podcast episode on the film) I absolutely love it.

    • February 9, 2020 10:18 pm

      I loved this movie too. It was slightly cheesy in a few parts, but a good, fun movie. Luckily there wasn’t anything misogynistic in it, that would offend me to treat a hot chick like Megan Fox that way.

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: XX (2017), the horror anthology led by women in horror. | Movies, Films & Flix

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