WHAT I LIKED: Diablo Cody and Karyn Kasuma's 'Jennifer's Body,' is a masterful, hyper-realist slasher about the toll that high-school expectations take on teenage girls.
In the film, we meet the titular character (Megan Fox) who's doing her best to be the slutty popular one that everyone expects; bragging about her sex life and throwing herself at boys. It's clearly a front because of how brilliantly OTT Fox plays it, and because when the screen flits to what she's seeing, it's presented like a sacrastic dream with the camera practically falling over itself whenever it sees a boy.
The guys in the film are also playing their respective hyper-sexual macho or indie roles to a tee, and then there's her geeky best friend "Needy" Anita (Amanda Seyfried) who's trying hard at school, jealously lusting after Jennifer, and doing her damndest to be as infatuated by boys as her. She's even more overtly terrified by those expectations and comparisons - both sexually with her boyfriend, and otherwise - than Jennifer is, and Seyfied does a great job of bringing that to life too.
As a result, when we see Jennifer used by a band of guys after a concert and subsequently go around seducing and murdering boys like she's demonically possesed, it doesn't really matter whether it's all in Anita's head or whether Jennifer's actually doing it. Either way it's about a girl who's scared and lashing out against the hideous norms constantly imposed on her, and that's a hugely powerful, upsetting, and brilliantly thought-provoking thing.
It only translates so well though because on the one hand the central performances are just perfect, and also because Kasuma and Cody bring everything to life so garishly and unapologetically. Cody's dialogue is hilarious; full of absurd stuff that teenagers would stereotypically think, like Anita describing Jennifer's abuser as "skinny and mean, like a petrified tree I saw when I was a kid," or her boyfriend hilariously calling Phil Collins "seminal" out loud.
That dialogue creates a brilliant flippancy, and the tension and gore is then brought to life with a similar zing such that you'll be grinning ear to ear and wincing more than you'll be on the edge of your seat. There's one scene for example where Kasuma cuts between Anita's first time with her boyfriend, and Jennifer's killing of a boy, and it's contrasted so amusingly until a literal connection between the two scenarios causes Anita's experience to go horribly wrong. That's just one of many examples in this film where you know exactly what's going to happen the minute the scene begins because such overt tropes are being utilised, but the excitement and anticipation is in the how rather than the what.
All of that makes it a great, character-focused thematic horror which will make you think, wince and smile throughout.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Perhaps it could have been scarier, but that might have taken away some of its playful enjoyment.
VERDICT: A genius horror concept about the toll that expectations take on high-school girls, 'Jennifer's Body,' is played perfectly to make you think, wince and smile, and that makes it a criminally overlooked gem.