TIFF Review: Jennifer’s Body

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Two years ago, screenwriter Diablo Cody made a huge splash with her big screen debut Juno, which was praised by critics, and was ultimately met with backlash by those who arrived on the backend of the hype. An Academy Award and two years later, Diablo is back in Toronto with something to prove. If you hate Cody, I doubt Jennifer’s Body will do much to change your mind. There are sure to be a lot of naysayers with a vocal agenda who will likely never give this film a real chance.

For me, Jennifer’s Body was a lot of fun. The movie feels more like the teen horror films that I grew up with in the 1980′s than the contemporary slashers produced by Platinum Dunes or Dimension Films. Actually, it plays more like a teen comedy than a horror film, and that’s not a bad thing. The laugh to jump ratio is probably 50:1.

If you’ve seen the trailers, than you know the story — Megan Fox stars as a high school girl who becomes possessed and begins eating her male classmates. Amanda Seyfried plays her attached-at-the-hip BFF, who must put an end to the carnage. The storyline doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor does it try to. I’ve been using words like familiar and fun, but I’ve heard one other critic say “derivative.”

As expected, Diablo Cody’s word-work is the centerpiece of the film. Fox seems born to deliver Cody’s clever snappy dialogue, which is more Valley Girl than Juno sarcastic, laced with pop culture references ranging from Evil Dead, to Wikipedia, to Aquamarine. Trouble comes when Fox is forced to leave her comfort zone and show some actual emotion, which thankfully only occurs in one or two scenes.

Reitman regular JK Simmons has a supporting role as a teacher with one hand. And if you look quick, you might even see a cameo from screenwriter/producer Diablo Cody. And Adam Brody headlines an indie band who is trying to capitalize on a small town tragedy, which ends up being one of the best running jokes of the film.

The film almost feels like an indie which could have easily premiered in Sundance’s Park City at Midnight line-up sans the big name stars. Fox will likely make some huge bank of this film come DVD time, as this film couldn’t have cost a lot to produce.

Aside from black projectile vomit, most of the gore-infused action is kept off screen, side from a post-kill shot or two, and sometimes cleverly visualized (ie silhouette). It definitely feels light in this respect, especially compared to most R-rated horror films these days. Even the script is decidedly more graphic, describing a victim as looking like “lasagna with teeth,” an image that never visually comes across on screen.

But again, this film feels more like a comedy than it does a contemporary horror movie, and I’m sure those who might end up liking Jennifer’s Body, will appreciate the humor over the scares/gore.

/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.

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