September 19th, 2009

MITCH’S HORROR MOVIE DOUBLE FEATURE: JENNIFER’S BODY (2009) ** ½ & SORORITY ROW (2009) ** ½

Okay so I don’t know what is up with the recent glut of horror movies being released in August and September.  Back in my day, the studios put out all their scary stuff in OCTOBER.  You know, around Halloween when it would make SENSE to release a horror movie.  Not that I’m complaining mind you, it just makes it kinda difficult to play catch up when there’s so many horror flicks coming and going.  A couple weeks ago I had to hit Halloween 2 and THE Final Destination back-to-back.  This week, I found time to sit around a multiplex all day and see Jennifer’s Body and Sorority Row.  Here’s the skinny.

 

JENNIFER’S BODY  (2009)  ** ½

 

Ever since stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody wrote Juno, her 15 Minutes has been steadily ticking down.  With this in mind, she penned this sloppy, uneven, and occasionally amusing horror comedy.  Too bad it runs out of gas before it crosses the finish line.

 

Jennifer (Megan Fox) is this bitchy cocktease cunt of a cheerleader who hooks up with this rock and roll band who sacrifices her to Satan so they can be famous.  Since she wasn’t a “pure” sacrifice, she returns to life possessed by a demon with an insatiable urge to devour teenage boys.  Her best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) eventually figures it all out and sets out to stop Jennifer’s reign of terror.

 

The premise sounds intriguing enough (it’s at least original, unlike so many remakes coming out of Hollywood nowadays), yet it really never gels.  Cody’s script is pretty much a mess and the stupid insane asylum framing device doesn’t work very well.  I think the biggest problem was that too much of the movie focuses on Needy.  I don’t think this character was a good idea.  To me, it would’ve been a lot cooler if it was all about Jennifer eating douchebags so you could cheer her on.  As is, there are a lot of scenes of the whiny Needy telling Jennifer not to do this or that or warning so-and-so that Jennifer is really a demon.  It kinda gets grating after awhile.

 

In addition to the clumsy plotting, I also have to call Diablo out on the dialogue.  While her snarky dialogue in Juno felt organic, it feels forced and phony here.  It almost sounds like somebody trying to copy her writing style than the real McCoy.

 

The thing that almost saves Jennifer’s Body is Megan Fox.  I thought she looked pretty much like your average air-brushed trailer park skank in Transformers, but she looks way hotter here.  She’s much better suited to playing bubble-headed cheerleaders than over-tanned White Trash hos.  I hope her agents realize that and cast her accordingly in her next movie. 

 

Jennifer’s Body runs a long 101 minutes and would’ve been better off at around 80.  Although the film’s shortcomings are numerous (My biggest gripe:  Even though the movie is called Jennifer’s Body, we never SEE Jennifer’s Body.  C’mon Megan, get off your high horse and show us your blouse puppies!), I was still quite entertained.  The movie had the vibe of a cheesy 80’s horror flick going for it and had a decent amount of gore as well.  Among the highlights:  multiple gut munching, black porcupine-textured bile spewing, and flambéing a tongue with a Bic lighter.  And say what you will about Jennifer’s Body, but this is the only movie I can think of in which a Satanic sacrifice takes place while the Satanists sing Jenny (867-5309).  So it’s got that going for it. 

 

And while I may harp on Cody’s limp dialogue, I have to admit I did laugh when Jennifer looked at one guy’s dick and said, “Nice hardware, Ace!”

 

SORORITY ROW  (2009)  ** ½

 

Whereas Jennifer’s Body was an original horror flick, Sorority Row is yet another horror remake off the Hollywood assembly line.  Now Jennifer’s Body tried to do something a little different and wasn’t quite successful.  Sorority Row on the other hand is nothing more than a cookie cutter rehash, but it has a habit of sporadically rising above the material and delivering the goods.  So in that respect, it’s more rewarding in a narrower sense.

 

What I liked most about Sorority Row is that it finally does what I’ve been saying for years:  Don’t remake a good horror movie; remake a shitty one.  The original The House of Sorority Row was one of the lesser entries in the 80’s slasher genre, yet it had moments where you looked at it and said to yourself, “Well, I can see where this COULD be good, but…”  This version isn’t great or anything but it’s much better than the original.  As recent remakes go, it's no better or worse than either the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Friday the 13th remakes.  (It also earns points for slightly altering the title so it doesn’t blatantly proclaim itself to be a remake.)

 

This Sorority Row is actually more like I Know What You Did Last Summer (a group of teens make a pact to cover up an accidental death that leads to a killer coming after them one year later) and Scream (the murderer wears a black cloak) than The House on Sorority Row.  The killer is also a bit different as he’s no longer a mutant mama’s boy; just some crazy dude wielding a “pimped out tire iron”.  These changes are ultimately for the better since the original flick was pretty much a turd to begin with.

 

I also admired Sorority Row because it was refreshingly unapologetic about being a Stalk n’ Slash Movie, which you don’t see very often.  It gives the people what they paid their money to see.  Mainly:  Pimped out tire irons being thrust into people’s hearts, heads, chins, and mouths.  We also got a couple gnarly kills in which the murderer shoved a wine bottle down a broad’s throat, shot another gal in the mouth with a flare gun, and buried an axe into somebody’s head.  There was also a quality offing involving a jock stuck in a dumb waiter too.  Sorority Row even treats the audience to a gratuitous shower scene, which is always a plus in a movie like this one.

 

The film goes off the tracks around the third act though.  I got notably restless after about the fourth false ending where yet another person who you thought was the killer turned out to not be the killer.  Like Jennifer’s Body, Sorority Row clocks in at a whopping 101 minutes; an ungodly length for a horror movie.  The irritating set-up for a sequel (that will probably never happen) tacked on more useless celluloid time.  The movie’s climax does feature a shotgun-toting, expletive-spouting Carrie Fisher; so I’ve got to admit that it was sorta fun.

 

Since Sorority Row features one of the most beautiful women in the Known Universe (next to Milla Jovovich and Jane Fonda in her Barbarella days, that is), I have to devote an entire paragraph to my girl, Audrina Patridge. 

 

(Note:  If you don’t want the movie to be utterly spoiled for you, please skip the next paragraph.  If my wife is reading this, then she probably shouldn’t read this next part either.) 

 

Dear Audrina, I know Sorority Row was your first big movie and you must’ve been so excited!!!  I watch you all the time on The Hills and think you are THE BEST!!!  I know those idiots on MTV never give you enough screen time, so you must’ve been relieved when that Lauren bitch finally left.  You must’ve known, like I did that you are so much better than The Hills, otherwise you wouldn't have chosen to start off your big screen acting career in Sorority Row.  (Besides you are like a gazillion times hotter than LC!!!)  Let me be the first one to tell you that you gave an amazing performance in this movie!!!  OMFG you were The Bomb.  You know, like when you got that tire iron into your heart… I almost cried.  It was so shocking!  A big star like you dying 10 minutes into the movie!  I almost wanted my money back.  After all, I paid my $8 to see YOU and not the movie.  I got a grip on myself though because I knew it was all MOVIE MAGIC!  Plus, I knew you weren’t really dead because I saw you co-host The Daily Ten on E! the other day.  (You looked gorgeous by the way!)  Your death scene was soooo unexpected!  I mean this must have been how people felt when they saw Janet Leigh die in Psycho for the first time.  And I have to say Audrina that you died on screen like a pro!  J  Hopefully someone like Freddy or Jason will look into making you their next victim because you were terrific!  Okay, well I don’t want to take up too much of your time because I know you’re busy filming your new reality show and everything.  I just want you to know that I thought you were fabulous and that you were looking damn fine.  Love always and forever (and not in a stalkerish creepy kinda way but in one of those I-can-feel-your-soul-touching-my-soul-even-though-we’re-so-far-away kinda ways), Mitch. 

 

(“Normal” review follows…)

 

Another thing Sorority Row had going for it was the dialogue.  The movie was filled with all kinds of great catty lines; some of which I’m sure Diablo Cody herself would’ve wished she had written.  The best came when some random chick in the shower catches a glimpse of another gal’s pubes and says, “FYI, waxing isn’t just for floors anymore!”