Director: Karyn Kusama
Cast: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, J.K Simmons
Plot: A high school girl, Jennifer (Fox) gets her body possessed by a demon and she needs to feast on male flesh to stay alive. Only her old friend, Needy (Seyfried) can stop her.
I can see why people have reacted badly to this movie, because in many ways, it is an awfully watered-down teen horror, with copy-and-pasted stereotypes and a lack of promised gore. However, I can see what the writer was trying to do here and that stops me from writing it off completely.
The truth is that this movie was never meant to be taken seriously. It was a clever throw-back to those laughably terrible horror films, where stupid teenagers get killed off one by one. I am not saying it was trying to be the next ‘Scream’, but there is definitely a hint of inspiration to be found here. Diablo Cody, best known for coming up with the amazing script for Juno, takes the writing duty here and she is the best thing about the film. There is a very strong sense that this is a cross between ‘Mean Girls’ and a horror movie. Amanda Seyfried, in particular, enjoys taking her early break-through role and turning it on its head. The clear running joke here is that teenage girls are so alien to us and horrible that it takes everyone an entire movie to figure out one of them has actually been possessed by a demon. The dialogue is terrific, riddled with all of those annoying, little catchphrases American kids used to come out with. Cute boys are called ‘salty’ and when the penny finally drops that Jennifer is killing people, the word ‘evil’ feels like just another slang word. The humour side of this movie is really good. Most of the jokes hit the intended target, like an amusing yet horrific sex scene between Seyfried and her boyfriend and the fact that the villains of the movie are not some gypsies wronged by our heroes, but a hipster band.
If only the serious side could match the funny stuff. Cody does her job and passes the baton over to the director, Kusama, who is only partially up for the job. Sure, we are laughing at the camp horror features, but every now and again, we want the movie to sober up and hit us with emotional resonance and maybe a bit of actual horror. Kusama tries, but those are the elements that totally let the film down. The scary scenes are not even remotely chilling. When Needy first meets Jennifer in demon form, we are meant to be holding our breath in suspense, as Needy walks through her abandoned house, floorboards creaking and shadows flickering out of her sight. However, it is such an amateur attempt that it doesn’t even come close to making us jump. We could have done with some more character development too. Teenage boys crop up in the story, but it is clear that they are only there to be killed off later on, despite wearing the air of importance. If this is what the serious side of the movie is, I am glad that the finale resorts back to jokes, the final fight featuring more high school bickering than bloody kills.
Megan Fox is the other reason this movie gets a bit of stick. I agree she is the kind of actress that can only do one role, but this is definitely that one role. Fox shows us Jennifer as a nasty, selfish human being, yet underneath that hard shell she is just damaged. If the director could handle seriousness, we could have even ended up feeling sorry for the character in certain beats. Fox handles Cody’s script comfortably, oozing every emotion that the writer wanted from the script. Seyfried is her co-star, and nearly steals the show. Seyfried usually annoys me with her watery eyes and the appearance that she is about to break into tears at any moment. But it works here, Seyfried coming across as the confused girl, who just wants her best friend back. She might start the film, looking like a paper-thin nerd character, but she is the emotional backbone of the film and at her very best here.
Final Verdict: Jennifer’s Body is not a bad film, but when we came in expecting Juno: The Horror, we all expected a lot better.