Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jenifer (2006)

Meet Jenifer. She will seduce you; she will be loyal to you; she will...gobble up everyone around you!

Coming off of my Let the Right One In high, I wasn't sure how good tonight's movie would seem, but Dario Argento's Jenifer delivered something from a fresh vein that kept me entertained and disgusted. Jenifer's mutilated face was so wicked that each time she suddenly appeared I felt the same revolt as the person whom she startled on screen.

It all starts when Steven Weber's character, a detective named Frank, rescues Jenifer from a man who is poised and ready to hack her head off. Thereafter, we find that Frank and his wife are having marital problems, but lo and behold, Franks ends up being drawn toward poor Jenifer and brings her home one night without telling his wife. I'm thinking, okay, this is a little far fetched, but I'll hang in there. Then, he goes on to actually sleep with Jenifer while they're supposed to be out looking for a place for her to stay. Now I really think this is too unbelievable. I mean, that face! The white blisters on her deformed tongue! No way would this guy do that.

Then it dawns on me that this movie is the ultimate metaphor for the quintessential bad girlfriend and bad boyfriend.

Let's examine the bad boyfriend first. Frank is in a serious relationship with an attractive woman who is willing to please. She is gentle and passive when trying to get Frank to open up about his feelings, but he lashes out and scolds her anyway. She doesn't withhold anything from Frank. Rather, Frank seems to be simply bored with her. So, Frank goes out and starts sleeping with another woman who has a demonic face, but a voluptuous body. This is real life people. If only I had a nickle for every time I heard a girl say, "I don't know what he saw in her anyway. His [girlfriend/wife/fiancée] is so much prettier."

As for the bad girlfriend, Jenifer gives him all the superficial things he craves but ultimately leaves him worse off. She is always there for him, seeking and giving attention. She is eager to seduce him and hand him another bottle of alcohol when his current bottle runs dry. It seems great, but then she is clinging to him like a leech. He can't think rationally, and everyone in his life who really cares about him has been swept aside. It's just the two of them, drowning in their misery together.

I still can't get past some of the unbelievable stuff, however. For instance, hours after Jenifer is found sinking her teeth into the family pet, Frank sleeps with her. I think this was supposed to show how blinded by the femme fatale he was, but it just caused me to cock my head to the side like my dog does when she's perplexed. What I loved, on the other hand, was how Frank's wife and son fled the coop after the incident. No second guesses, no questions. They caught one look at Jenifer's feline frenzy, called a taxi and bolted. That was truly believable.

As in my concluded metaphor, Frank just couldn't get Jenifer out of his life. Eventually she went too far for him and the movie came full circle, which won me over.

While not one of my favorites, Jenifer remained steadily uncomfortable and bloody, leaving hideous images tattooed on my brain.


  1. This was in my top 2 for the first season of MoH, I thought the reversal of the classic Beauty and the Beast fable was fantastic, and I didnt consider the metaphor you developed previously so I will be sure to keep it in mind in the next watch through! Argento brought the gore, but did so in a way that was entirely contextualized with the theme of the film, adding to the juxtaposition of extreme disgust and extreme lust.

  2. dragonmanes - What were your favorites from MoH? Believe it or not, this was my introduction to Argento. I'm looking forward to watching Suspiria tomorrow night and then continuing to explore his work.

  3. Dont worry, it happens to all of us, that one fateful day that we realized we had no idea who Dario Argento was as the other horror fans casually throw the name around. Suspiria might take one view to sink in, then another for full appreciation. If you are unfamiliar with Argento you likely havent seen many Bava films, so the stylism will be seemingly strange and surreal, but the film will stick with you immediately! Once you get Suspiriad, be sure to see Phenomena, Deep Red, The Cat O Nine Tails, Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and my personal fav Tenebrae. From Argento, you can start expanding out to Fulci, Bava, and Soavi. I can keep going but this comment will be pretty long lol..

    For MoH, my favorite episode would have to be Deer Woman, followed by Jenifer, then probably Imprint, Washingtonians, Pelts, Family, then the rest pretty much run together. The only ones I really didnt like were Dream Cruise, Haekel's Tale, and esp. We All Scream... God that sucked..

  4. dragonmanes - This is exactly why I started this blog! Due to a belated interest in the horror genre (16-17 I think), there is lot of undiscovered territory. Mostly, I have stuck to what has come out in the 21st century, although I'm about to go on a huge "classics" kick.

    You seem well-versed in your horror films. Thanks for the director and movie recommendations. Feel free to load the Recommendations page down!

  5. The moment in "Jennifer" when the titular character licks her lips when the little girl asks if she wants to play is possibly the best moment of the episode, and one of the reasons I dig it.
    Have fun with Suspiria, a film that the poster is quite right in saying you really have to see a couple of times. Don't bother trying to follow the plot, just allow the images to unfold and you'll have a great time.

  6. Bo - Great scene indeed! Although, I thought for sure that little girl was going to haul it out of there, screaming at the top of her lungs when she caught sight of Jenifer. Still, it was one of those "yeah, she's dead" moments!

    That's what a lot of people are saying about Suspiria. I'm looking forward to it.

  7. Forgot to add Opera, Opera is another personal favorite from Argento, I highly recommend it for another great Giallo

  8. dragonmanes - Opera has been added to the queue ;-)