Winning an Oscar for a first film is a perilous position for a screenwriter to be in, for with adulation comes high expectation, and with high expectation comes hype that is almost always self-defeating. Such is the case with "Jennifer's Body," the sophomore script from Diablo ("Juno") Cody, which takes an uncomfortable union of concept, content, and direction (by Karyn Kusama), and transforms it into a film I really WANTED to like, but in the end couldn't. Marketed as a hip, self-aware horror flick, it never delivers much beyond the norm of the genre (it follows firmly in the tradition of Kevin Williamson, who gave us "Scream" and "The Faculty" over a decade ago), and passages of heartfelt emotion are shortchanged for ridiculous horror segues (an indie band sacrifices a virgin to make a pact with the Devil, for instance) and Cody's own contrived linguistic quirks. The quirks worked for "Juno," which told a dramatic story populated by fully realized characters and peppered with moments of bittersweet humor. "Jennifer's Body" almost succeeds based on the strength of its central duo: the titular cheerleader (Megan Fox) and her bespectacled, dorky BFF, Needy (Amanda Seyfried), who undergo serious issues when Jennifer becomes a literal man-eater; the bond between them is so palpable and effective that it almost saves the film when it goes off into the realm of bloodshed and digital trickery. If Cody's script can't find a balance between the horror, the humor, and the pathos, director Kusama steers the film even more erratically, resulting in a tone that remains unsettled until the very end. Ultimately, "Jennifer's Body" has its share of visually arresting moments and fine performances (particularly Seyfried's), but it has much less to offer than its obvious (and far superior) influences: Jacques Tourneur's (and Paul Schrader's) "Cat People" and the "Ginger Snaps" trilogy (which took the metaphorical monstrosity of puberty and its own clever dialog into much more exciting territory).