Has DARK SIDE become jaded about JENNIFER’S BODY? The answer is “Yes” in today’s installment of I AM A HATER!
(Sort-of Disclaimer: “I Am A Hater” contributors say mean things… but in a constructive way. They try to elicit free thinking, discussion or change from slamming something that infuriates, baffles or frustrates them. I’m sure you’ve often thought of doing the same. Read the rant and decide for yourself…)
Yesterday a female friend of mine asked me if I’d seen the Jennifer’s Body trailer yet. I said, sure I have… I keep up with those things you know. She then asked why I hadn’t posted anything about it on the website. I responded that I didn’t find it particularly interesting.
Her jaw hit the floor.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the project, it involves Megan Fox as a shallow high school cheerleader named Jennifer who somehow becomes possessed by a demon and starts eating boys. Amanda Seyfried plays Needy, Jennifer’s frumpy friend who discovers Jennifer’s secret and resolves to stop her.
My friend couldn’t fathom three things about my lack of interest for this film: 1. Aren’t I a “horror” guy? 2. Am I the only straight American male that would deny himself an entire movie of Megan Fox cavorting like a bad girl and getting naked? 3. Isn’t screenwriter Diablo Cody a mega-hot commodity and shouldn’t I pay attention to her follow-up to “Juno?” 4. It looks like a cute movie.
These were my responses: 1. Last time I checked. 2. I’m over her. 3. I’m over her. 4. Say WHAT?
I’m all for women filmmakers and films aimed at the female demographic (especially where horror’s concerned), and this one is the only one I can think of that’s coming out this year that fits that criteria. I even defended Jennifer’s Body director, Karen Kusama when critics panned her Aeon Flux movie.
Its many positive elements should make it work. You’ve got Amanda Seyfried fresh off her Mama Mia success. Then there’s “hot item” writer Cody. Finally, there’s Megan Fox, arguably the most attractive female working in film today taking the lead role.
The formula’s sound. Superficially it sounds like a winner.
However… how many females actually like Megan Fox? I’ve yet to hear a girl or woman say, “She’s a terrific role model,” or “She’s so cute, I can’t wait to see her in something else,” or even “she’s a good actress.” I have only heard, “She’s a skank,” or “She’s too overexposed,” or even “She’d make a great porn star but she couldn’t act her way out of a cardboard box.” I kind of doubt she’s the big box office draw for the women. What about the men? I think most of us would agree she’d probably make a great porn star. Beyond her sex appeal, I don’t see much else to her and her immature statements to the press over the past year or so hasn’t helped her rep (don’t you EVER trash Wonder Woman again, Megan! You lost an easy opportunity there to say the least).
Seyfried should be careful not to squander her recent Hollywood street cred. She’s not that big yet and choosing the wrong goofy role could ruin her chances. If she doesn’t realize that now, she will when the other shoe drops if or when “Jennifer’s Body” tanks.
Cody potentially has the shortest shelf life of any of them. She got too much attention for “Juno” and all that hype will backfire on her if she fails to produce good material. Much of Hollywood is wondering if she was just a flash in the pan. This film will make or break her.
I also believe people are sorely mistaken when they claim that silly, self-referential horror is on the upswing. Look at Drag Me to Hell. It failed to reach the majority of its target audience and box office expectations despite a PG-13 rating, Sam Raimi’s return to horror and a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.com.
Plus, American horror; with all its remakes, PG-13 violence, lack of ingenuity and halfhearted efforts; has failed to surpass the “torture porn” craze to come up with viable evolution to the genre. Sure, Jennifer’s Body will be rated-R, but most of the American films that bear that rating are remakes or completely uninspired. I don’t see Jennifer becoming an exception to this escalating trend. Demon possession of a high school girl? That’s not original. It’s Heathers without the scathing satire or moral ambiguity.
Nope, foreign and indie horror is still where it’s at. When Hollywood isn’t remaking them, like with Let the Right One In (now simply called Let Me In) and [Rec] (a.k.a. Quarantine), it’s cowering from them and pretending they doesn’t exist. Despite the fact they are the cutting edge of horror, Hollywood generally considers them too edgy for American audiences.
Jennifer’s Body looks about as edgy as American Pie… all groady sex-jokes and zero scares.
And here’s the real nail in the coffin: Jennifer’s Body looks “cute?”
[Hello Kitty vs. Cthulhu]
A WARNING to women. The adjective you’re looking for is “fun,” not “cute.” The second you use the word “cute” to describe a movie, every straight male in the room will tune completely out and avoid the film like the plague. I cannot guarantee they will hide this reaction without rolling their eyes either. If “cute” is how a mass audience perceives the marketing for this film, I shudder to think of finished product. I don’t know whether to hope that the ad campaign is simply glossing over a kick-ass horror film to attract the female demographic or hope that its failure will sink wannabe “cutesy” horror movies (like the dreadfully miscalculated Coraline) for good. Horror can be fun, but never cute. Period. I know you’re thinking of Gremlins, but we are in the 00’s now. There are no more PG horror movies.
As for the trailers, the green-band trailer that doesn’t show anything offensive wasn’t terrible, but the red-band, R-rated trailer? It was so obnoxious, I felt like Diablo Cody personally walked up to me and flipped me off to my face while screaming, “GIRL POWER, A-HOLE!”
Now here’s the kicker… I WANT DESPERATELY FOR JENNIFER’S BODY TO PROVE ME WRONG.
I would love nothing better for it to become the next Ginger Snaps or The Company of Wolves or The Howling (why am I stuck on werewolf movies?). Or Inside or Martyrs or High Tension (now it’s French psycho horror, what gives?). The point is, I hope it transcends the cliches and superficiality it shows in these trailers to become a true, female-driven horror masterpiece. Something with teeth that truly challenges convention rather than spouting never ending pop culture references and too-clever-for-it’s-own-good dialogue. A Heathers for the next generation.
In a Bing Crosby voice: C’mon, ladies. Don’t let down the clown.
P.S. Here’s the “not-so-bad” green-band trailer for Jennifer’s Body…
And now the raunchy, obnoxious, middle-finger flipping red-band trailer…
Which do you prefer? Think carefully, it might determine whether you end up liking the movie or not.
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