Jennifer’s Body *
Here we have what is probably one of the most hyped up horror movies of 2009. Yet it isn’t so much due to it being scary, but rather that it stars the super-hot (at least to some people) Megan Fox as a popular high school girl who becomes possessed by a devil and begins eating boys – sexual innuendos clearly big on the film’s agenda. Jennifer’s Body is a film that, at least in principle, has potential. Megan Fox is supposedly one of the big names in a new generation of movie stars (although the poor box office performance of this film in the states suggests otherwise), as is co-star Amanda Seyfried, the film is written by Oscar winning Juno scriptwriter Diablo Cody and with direction also coming in the female form – that of Karyn Kusama – this is a film where women are truly in charge – the writer, the director and both leads being female – suggesting that the film may have as much to offer female viewers as it does to the male viewers whom the casting of Megan Fox suggests the film is aimed at. Also, the film has been made with a very tongue in cheek approach, firmly falling into the horror comedy subgenre, a genre that is often tough to crack at the box office but often delivers some truly memorable films. Sadly, however, for all its potential, Jennifer’s Body fails to join the ranks of great horror comedies.
Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) is the sexy, popular captain of the high school cheerleading squad. All of the girls want to be friends with her, and all of the boys want to have sex with her. Jennifer’s friend since childhood, Anita “Needy” Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried), is a nerdy, substantially less popular, “plain jane” student. After Jennifer ends up as the sacrifice in a Satanic ritual she becomes possessed by a demonic spirit and she is transformed into a flesh-eating femme fatale whose snack of choice is boys. While the fellas are powerless to resist her charms Jennifer finds and unlikely adversary in Needy. The usually-timid Needy doesn’t take too kindly to Jennifer setting her sights on her boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons) and will do anything in her power to stop the foxy fiend. But has wimpy Needy, a girl who can’t even finish gym, got what it takes to defeat her demonic ex-best friend?
With Diablo Cody as writer you’d be forgiven for expecting something special from the writing in Jennifer’s Body. Sadly, however, there is nothing special about any aspect of this film. The script lacks the intelligence and wit that was present in Juno and despite Cody’s apparent understanding of the teen psyche – something which was clearly visible in Juno and is occasionally present here – most of the characters portrayed seem rather typically stereotypical. Also, Cody’s attempts at postmodernism through pop culture references and possibly even homage’s to – or rip-offs of, to use another term – other (much better) horror films generally go in one of two directions, either being too over the heads of the target audience to really make an impact or too obvious with pretty much the same result. As well as attempting and failing at postmodernism here, Cody also fails to deliver any gags that are particularly funny – although this is a matter of perspective, the teenagers in the screening I was at finding a lot of it very funny – with much of the humour revolving around sexual situations and innuendos and generally anything related to Jennifer’s Body. In addition to failing to deliver laughs, the film also fails to be particularly scary, something that wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the tongue in cheek, not to be taken too seriously approach actually made for a film that was in any way funny or smart, but that is a massive failing considering the film doesn’t even achieve that much. Another failing is in the way the story unfolds with it being rather difficult to actually care about what happens for much of the time and consequently the film ends up being a bit of a drag, although this may be partially due to poor editing and direction. Whatever, though, it appears that Diablo Cody is probably a one hit wonder and she certainly won’t be winning any Oscars for her work here. The film has one aspect, however, that does redeem it slightly. The casting works. Megan Fox, while being very stereotypical in her portrayal of Jennifer, nonetheless makes for a believable popular girl character and her transformation from man eating high school girl to literally man eating demon possessed high school girl isn’t entirely without entertainment value. But, it is Amanda Seyfried who really stands out, successfully breaking out of the stereotype of the nerdy type character in her transformation from wimpy bystander to kick-ass heroine. There is also an amusing appearance by J.K. Simmons as a hook handed school teacher. Overall, Jennifer’s Body is a film that has little to recommend it, in spite of some decent efforts among the cast. Sure, there is a particular group of people who may consider it to be the best film ever made – not hard to figure out who they are – but anyone who actually enjoys GOOD horror films should avoid this film at all costs.
Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)
© BRWC 2010.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.