The writer opens up about returning to horror after her last foray into the genre, the cult classic Jennifer’s Body, was “perceived as a failure in every way” when it first came out.
Diablo Cody is back in her horror element — but it’s a space she wasn’t sure she’d ever return to following the crushing defeat that followed the release of (actually great) Jennifer’s Body.
The 2009 horror flick starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried was the second film written by Cody, who was high off the success of Juno at the time. Her followup, however, was panned by critics and fizzled at the box office at the time, quickly being labeled a box office bomb.
In the years since, however, the movie’s fans have grown and gotten pretty vocal in the process — giving it a very respectable cult following and overall positive reappraisal. However, due to its poor performance upon its initial release, Cody admits she “had a hesitation” about returning to the horror genre for a long time.
“For years I had had a hesitation about it. Because I knew that Jennifer’s body had been sort of perceived as a failure in every way,” she told TooFab while promoting Lisa Frankenstein, a comedy horror which she wrote and was directed by Zelda Williams.
“So I just thought, I guess people aren’t interested in, you know, that kind of movie from me,” she continued. “And then when the movie found an audience and started to be appreciated, which is the greatest feeling in the world, then I went, ‘Okay, actually maybe I had the right instinct all along and this is a good space for me to be writing.'”
Of getting back into the genre groove for her ’80s-set, teen romcom take on Frankenstein, Cody said she was “really excited to be doing it again,” adding that it wasn’t just a “fun” experience for her, but “it was also healing for me, to be able to with these kind of tropes again and to play in this world because I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance again.”
Director Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams, said she was immediately sold on turning the script into her first feature-length film after reading it.
“Very immediately when you read something that is this fleshed out and has all of this wondrous character development in it, even as a person who was acting back when, I would’ve loved to read this, but especially as a director, I just knew it was going to be such a vibrant world to approach,” Williams told TooFab.
“And I fell madly in love with that creativity and the spoonful of sugar kind of fantasy elements to it,” she added. “Those are the kind of adventures I want to go on as a director. So I think I wrote her back within 24 hours, I was like, ‘Please!'”
The project is kind of a full circle moment for the pair, after Zelda revealed she actually auditioned for a role in Juno way back in the day. That, apparently, was news to Cody — who didn’t realize the connection until after they wrapped.
“I didn’t know that and let me just say, the audition log for Juno is a real who’s who,” recalled Cody, who wrote the Jason Reitman-directed film. “There are lots of people that are off doing amazing things now who auditioned for that movie at the time, but I did not know Zelda was in the mix.”
Lisa Frankenstein hits theaters February 9.