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Movie Review: Jennifer’s Body

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Diablo Cody is an interesting talent. She seems to be as loved as she is reviled. In just a few short years, her limited body of work has made her one of the more polarizing personalities in Hollywood. One of the best things about her rise to prominence is that people are talking about the writer as opposed to the director. All too often, unless you are a writer/director, the writer is relegated to the background, a name in a credit scroll. Diablo Cody is a writer and the focus of much discussion regarding the projects she is on. That is a good thing, regardless of whether or not you like her work.

Her latest project sees her team with director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight) for a horror/comedy hybrid called Jennifer's Body. It stars Megan Fox (Transformers) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) and tells the tale of a couple of high school best friends and a little blood lust that comes between them. It is a new look at the genre, focusing on a relationship first and foremost with the bloodshed all around as window dressing for the disintegration of a friendship and the different ways in which we view ourselves and our place in relation to others.

The screenplay bears some similarity to Cody's auspicious 2007 debut, the Oscar-nominated Juno. Both works have a distinct flow to them, a use of language that seems to be more about the placement of words and their sounds than their actual meaning. This leads to the invention of slang that does not really exist, an element that some love for its originality and others loathe for trying too hard to be hip. It seems that it was more readily accepted in Juno than for Jennifer's Body. I wonder why that is? Could it be because the first was a critical darling and the latter is a lowly horror film? Maybe. Perhaps people just genuinely do not like it or have grown tired of it. I really like her use of language, it is reminiscent of the way Quentin Tarantino writes. It has substance, but it also has style. It does not seek to be real or replicate reality so much as it creates its own alternate world.

As the film starts, we meet Anita (nicknamed "Needy" and played by Amanda Seyfried). She is in a mental hospital and looks to be rather run down and not terribly cooperative. We learn that something happened, no one believes her, it involves her best friend, Jennifer (Fox), and she is about to share the story.

We are taken back to happier times. Jennifer and Needy are unlikely best friends. Jennifer is the head cheerleader and most popular girl in school and Needy is decidedly to the nerdier side of the coin. The two go out to a local bar to see an up and coming indie rock act called Low Shoulder (led by Adam Brody). While there, Jennifer heads out with the band, despite Needy's protests.

She shows up at Needy's later that night, covered in blood, with a look of shock on her face. She spews some vomitous blood goop over the kitchen floor, scares her friend, and leaves. The next day, she is at school as if nothing happened. This is when things begin to change and the real horror begins.

Jennifer's needs become more apparent, although they are not of the usual high school lustful variety. Oh no, she may be using her sexuality, the titular "body" if you will, to lure boys into her praying mantis-esque trap. It turns out that whatever happened that night left her changed, turned into some sort of demon hybrid that has a thirst for blood, and perhaps a little bit of flesh.

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