Not Just High School Evil

One of the main features of horror movies/black comedies is the suspension of disbelief [1], the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, to suspend their judgment in exchange for the promise of entertainment. Some of the events in such movies are so over-the-top and excessive, that it is nearly impossible to believe they’re plausible. As a fan of the horror genre (movies, literature and comic books), I am always willing to suspend my disbelief, sit back and enjoy; for the same reason, I am really looking forward to watching Jennifer’s Body [2], the latest movie by Karyn Kusama, starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. The screenplay was written by the Academy Award winner Diablo Cody and produced by Jason Reitman (they worked together for Juno).

I know this is just another teen black comedy [3], but I’ve always loved movies set in high schools. Moreover, there seems to be many possible reasons of interest, starting from the official playbill, where horror (there’s a body in the school desk) and comedy (doesn’t Megan Fox look like one of the million cute girls in high school movies?) mix. I think this image perfectly sets the atmosphere of the film.

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Some stills have surfaced before the release of the movie, so it is possible to understand something more about the film. Megan Fox is Jennifer, a sexy and popular cheerleader. She ends up as the sacrifice in a Satanic ritual, held by a rock band, hoping that this will increase their chances of getting a record deal. The ritual goes wrong and Jennifer becomes possessed by a demon and begins to feed off of the boys in her high school. Jennifer’s female counterpart is her best friend, Anita “Needy” Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried), who wants to stop Jennifer from killing other classmates.


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I’m looking forward to seeing how Megan Fox will manage her role. She’s known for her roles in action movies or teenage comedies, but this is the first kind-of-horror role for her. She’s extremely beautiful, so I think she’s perfect for the classic role of the vamp, the woman who uses her beauty and sexuality as weapons for reaching her goals and who uses men as objects (in this case, as food). After the ritual gone wrong, she doesn’t change her appearance, but she’s trasformed into a blood-thirsty monster.

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Megan wearing this beautiful white dress is a sign that part of the movie is set during the prom. This is another topos of horror and high school movies, because the prom night is symbolic: it is a formal dance held at the end of the senior year, it marks the end of an important school course and the end of adolescence. Like Halloween, it is a night where anything could possibly happen and everybody is changed into someone else (boys wear tuxedos, girls evening dresses), so it is not coincidental the choice to set part of the movie during such night.

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The role of Anita is played by Amanda Seyfried: she’s the nerdy friend of Jennifer, who wants to save her from her inner monster but also to save her classmates from Jennifer. This character is important because she’s the female counterpart of Jennifer: she’s not popular nor beautiful, but she cares for her friend and this instantly turns her into an enemy. Amanda is a beauty, but she is made ugly for the movie: check her tacky pink prom dress – balloon sleeves and tiered skirt – her hair and her glasses. It looks like she confronts Jennifer during the prom night.

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They’re very different in character and this is emphasized by their appearance, too: Jennifer is a beautiful and sexy brunette, while Anita is a clumsy blonde, who wears thick-rimmed sunglasses and has no apparent interest apart from books.

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Another reason why I am curious is Adam Brody, who plays the role of Nikolai Wolf, a Satanist rock singer, who helps Anita in plotting against Jennifer.

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Brody, famous for portraying the awkward comic-book loving skateboarder Seth Cohen in The O.C., is so sexy in his black suit, tattoos and silver jewellery.

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Apart from the plot, I am intrigued by another playbill of the movie, where Jennifer/Megan licks a drop of blood at the corner of the mouth. The artwork is a rip-off of HBO’s tv show True Blood, but both are inspired to a famous portrait of a vampy Angelina Jolie [4].

Before closing the post, here are the best prom movies ever [6]! Carrie by Brian de Palma is a Cinderella-like tale of teenage angst, pain, religious obsession and revenge; its climax is set during the prom night, when the protagonist apparently becomes ‘normal’ (she’s got telekinetic powers), is chosen as the prom queen, but then is punished with a shower of pig blood (this will lead to her terrible revenge on her school mates).

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Carrie is the symbol of the prom gone wrong, but this night can become meaningful for other (though not tragical) reasons.

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In Grease by Randal Kleiser, the prom night is full of events: Sandy and Danny take part into the dance contest as a couple, but leave as singles, Rizzo and Kenickie arrive with other partners just to make the other jealous, everybody acts a little crazy.

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Footloose by Herbert Ross is not a musical, but is centred, like Grease, on dancing: in this case, the protagonist, Ren (Kevin Bacon), is a boy from Chicago who moves to a small country town where rock music and dancing are illegal. He tries and succeeds in breaking free from the ban, just in time for the senior prom.

back to the future

Back to the Future by Robert Zemeckis is one of my favourite movies. One of the most important events of the movie (the meeting of Lorraine and George, Marty’s soon-to-be parents) takes place at a school ball, Enchantment Under the Sea. During the ball, Marty plays a hard-core version of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode, such a funny moment.

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Pretty in Pink by Howard Deutch [5] is another film I can’t get enough of watching. This is the story of Andie Walsh, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, who falls in love with the geeky and rich Blane. The plot is based on the classic opposition between rich (and spoiled) and poor (but creative) teenagers, but the protagonists finally succeed in staying together. The prom night is the final event of the movie: Andie – who has broken up with Blaine – has hand-sewn her prom dress and goes to the ball with her best friend Duckie (who loves her); Andie and Blane meet at the ball and decide to rekindle their love story.

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Never Been Kissed by Raja Gosnell is a funny film starring Drew Barrymore, a nerdy journalist who enrolls in her old highschool as part of her research for an article. She falls in love with her English teacher and they express their mutual love during the prom, which is a masked ball. This movie reminds me of Ugly Betty: Josie was dumped just before her first prom, and the same happened to Betty (she was dumped by her best girl friend, who went to the prom with a boy).

Are you looking forward to watching Jennifer’s Body as I am? Do you like teen black comedies/horror movies or do you think they’re just for teens?

[1] This phrase was coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Biographia Literaria (1817).

[2] The title comes from the famous Hole song of the same name and is a homage of Diablo Cody to Courtney Love.

[3] The general atmosphere of Jennifer’s Body pays homage to Heathers by Michael Lehmann, the most famous teen black comedy.

[4] Is it a coincidence that Megan Fox is often compared to Angelina Jolie?

[5] The screenplay was written by the great John Hughes, who has recently passed away. May he rest in peace, I’ll miss him.

[6] Gossip Girl‘s Valley Girls (24 episode, 2 season) is not a movie, but I don’t want to leave it out. Isn’t Chuck’s plan for making Blair’s prom night perfect so romantic? And isn’t Blair’s Marchesa dress to die for?

Source, source and source.

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