Today’s lesson from the Tao of Horror: If a B horror flick has the world’s most fuckable star and the only screenwriter who can A) show up in her own movies and B) be recognized when she does, is it still a B horror flick? Yes, my people. Yes. Case in point: Jennifer’s Body, which, despite a level of media attention unusual for horror openings (attributable to said star and said screenwriter), bombed on opening weekend, not even scraping $7 million. (For comparison, All About Steve did $13 mill, and critics likened it to perforating your eyelids with safety pins for two hours.)
Why the box office flop? (And it was: don’t let anyone lie to you about how they were rolling it out or whatever. No: it opened big, on 2,702 screens.) One reason is because the film was bad. Or at least, not good. Okay, one scene was seriously fucking good-Megan Fox eviscerating a sweet-natured Goth kid in silhouette could go in a “Best of Modern Horror” highlights video. But the “teenage girl awakens as bloodthirsty monster, while good-girl best friend watches in vain” theme has been done before, and better. Ginger Snaps did it far darker and scarier, taking the werewolfism-as-puberty metaphor to a satisfying extreme (plus the two girls were sisters, giving them that extra toxic twist). And if you want pure “teen loses control of the sexual beast within,” there’s just no better than Teeth (an abstinence activist with vagina dentata-now THAT’s a concept).
Still, what makes this blood-soaked Juno followup almost work is said star. Megan Fox’s body is, inherently, evil. She’s the Demon Pretty. That much Pretty has power over all of us-young, old, black, white, female and panting male alike. We’re helpless in the face of it. We pay it more money, give it better customer service, offer it more respect at dinner parties. Studies have proven it: that level of Pretty controls our minds. So of course it should show up as a murderous demon in a horror film. Makes perfect sense.
And Fox doesn’t just provide the Pretty-she brandishes it, cooing and slithering across the screen before slurping up another hapless adolescent. She’s the Pretty’s perfect monster. She rocks.
No, the problem isn’t Fox-it’s the rest of the film. It MAKES NO SENSE. Random fires start for no reason, random woodland creatures suddenly become minions of Satan, random lesbian-undertoned mind-melds lead to random highway encounters that lead to… makeout scenes. Shit don’t make no sense. Horror has a CODE. There’s a SYSTEM. We need to SEE our demon entering our girl, and leaving her body when she dies (and dude, seriously, since when are demons killed by ripping off BFF necklaces?). What we need far less is having our demoness call people “Monistat” and watch infomercials. And girl-power opening scene aside, any feminist street cred in this film is shredded by that utterly superfluous Fox-on-Seyfried makeout sequence. Seriously-it had no purpose, so much so that it drew laughter from the audience (and not just from dudes squirming to hide their boners).
Granted, the underlying point-that the “good girl,” despite her lack of Pretty, is the stronger woman of the two-is well made. But by the time we get there, we’re so overwhelmed by the randomness that it’s hard to care. Plus if Seyfried is that effing strong, you’d think she could carry out a quadruple homicide without getting caught on security cameras. I mean really.
Melissa Lafsky really likes horror movies.