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Sorry for not posting in a long time, folks. I’ve been a busy beaver trying to get a few projects underway and kickstarting some stymied projects. But I’m back with a review on a recent film – Jennifer’s Body.

Be warned, there may be a couple of spoilers in the following review. I’ll try to avoid them where possible.

The reason this film has kickstarted me into posting is because it exemplifies the issue of how even with all the right ingredients a film can fall apart very easily.

Needy is your stereotypical Hollywood high school geek girl. We know this because her hair is frizzy, she wears glasses and usually has her hair in a ponytail. She is best friends with high school cheerleader, Jennifer. (Played reasonably well by Megan Fox.) They live in the small hick town of Devil’s Kettle – so named after a mysterious waterfall and sinkhole on the outskirts of town. After escaping from a bar fire, Jennifer allows herself to be driven off by a visiting indie band who are devil worshippers in disguise and ends up possessed by a demon who proceeds to eat the local jocks and boys. But when she sets her sights on Needy’s cute boyfriend, Chip, the war between BFFs is on.

Despite being penned by Diablo Cody of Juno fame, and despite a number of talented actors – this film never knows what it is trying to be. It is clear that Cody is trying to tell a metaphorical tale about the pitfalls of an abusive friendship -the boy eating takes a backseat to Jennifer and Needy’s friendship and the strain put on it by Jennifer becoming demonic.

However the director’s lack of confidence unhinges the film, as does the weak set pieces and Cody’s error in writing the characters as more in depth than the archetypes they are meant to subvert.

While making things have a very real foundation, the failure to decisively be a comedy or a humorous horror ends up making for an uncomfortable mess of a film.

That, in my view, is the director’s responsibility. Despite casting a pretty girl as Needy, she never transforms into an attractive character. She remains geeky throughout. Even though the promotional posters have her sexied up.

Jennifer is presented at times in a sympathetic light, but nothing ever really comes from this.

Often humorous lines are delivered in a flat manner, and are accompanied by totally inappropriate music that steals from the scene.

By refusing to take one position over another in style, the film is just an awkward mess. The big face-off even happens at the beginning of the third act rather than the climax, leading to another weaker climactic face off that is far too emo for its own good and leaves everything feeling flat and undercooked.

A comedy, even a dark comedy, should never make you shy away from finding the humour. It should make you feel uncomfortable for laughing – but it shouldn’t make you feel too awkward to even laugh.

This film lacked that decisive directing that would have kept the film balanced. Which is a shame. In the hands of a more capable director, this did have the potential of being another Heathers. Brilliant, witty and dark. But what we got was wishy-washy and awkward instead.

April 2010

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