Jennifer's Body

Director    Karyn Kusama
Starring    Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody, Johnny Simmons, JK Simmons, Amy Sedaris
Release    18 SEP (US) 4 NOV (UK)    Certificate 15
3 stars


8th November 2009

Recently I spoke of the lack of prominent female figures in the movie industry. Well, here are three on the same film. First, you have director Karyn Kusama of Aeon Flux and Girlfight fame. Penning the script is Oscar-winning scribe du jour Diablo Cody, hot off Juno. Then, most prominent of all, you have star and full-time erection facilitator Megan Fox, who's somehow become the hottest property in female film - and even she'd be first to admit she's no idea why.

With Kusama's punch, Cody's sass and Fox's allure, Jennifer's Body doesn't quite turn the horror genre on its head, but it does prove the girls can spook just as well as the boys. Think Mean Girls making out with Teen Wolf on the set of The Faculty. Or something.

[gallery]Fox plays Jennifer, the quintessential high school bitch - sexy, popular and she knows it. After she and nerdy best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) attend a gig by indie douchebags Low Shoulder, Jennifer is van-napped and finds herself sacrificed by the band, who seek to sacrifice a virgin in exchange for a record deal. Unfortunately, Jennifer is 'not that innocent' and is reborn as a literal man-eater, leaving Needy torn between saving the boys of the town and the soul of her secret girl-crush.

Given all Fox's recent and unwarranted criticism (how dare she be young and sexy and fortright?), it's a shame she's still in her comfort zone. Jennifer is all glossy lips and cutting put-downs, but does make for a good fit with Cody's pin-sharp dialogue. While it's no stretch for her, Fox acquits herself well. To fans of the Transformers movies and her numerous magazine shoots, it may come as a shock that Fox can actually act - all that's been required of her thus far in her career is, to quote Michael Bay, "just try to look hot".

Fox does the eye candy thing here too, but fares well when called on to play both scared and scary. Her most revealing moment is her glassy-eyed stare of infatuation when watching lead singer Adam Brody on stage before her transformation - probably the only moment, in fact, when her character goes beyond just bitch or beast. Brody, incidentally, is magnificent; why is he not a far bigger star than he actually is?

Karyn Kusama's direction is otherwise pretty workmanlike (or workwomanlike), leaving little to no personal stamp on the project; when you watch Drag Me To Hell, you're in no doubt that you're watching a Sam Raimi movie. Genuine scares are sparse, save for the startling scene in which Evil Jennifer vomits a puddle of thick, black ooze, but thankfully Cody's perky script keeps the tempo high and the laugh count consistent.

Dialogue grates much less coming from a non-sympathetic character like Jennifer, rather than, say, smartass slacker Juno. It's crude at times ("It smells like Thai food in here - have you guys been fucking?") and a little too clever-clever for high-schoolers ("that's freak-tarded!"), but it is in keeping with the hyper-real feel of the movie, which comes complete with a full set of archetypes for Jennifer to eat, a hook-handed headmaster (JK Simmons) and a crusty old swimming pool covered in swampy vines and cobwebs.

Indeed, that final swimming pool showdown is the only time when situation, character and dialogue all chime as one glorious whole. "You can fly?" asks Needy's boyfriend Chip, terrified at Jennifer's floating body. "She's just hovering," comes Needy's reply, "It's not that impressive".

Moments like this, when the horror genre is deftly deflated, are sadly few and far between - often, scenes are either humorous or exciting, but rarely both. The human element of the movie - a suggested extra-curricular relationship between Jennifer and Needy - is barely touched upon, save for a "totally lesbi-gay" girl-on-girl kiss, which is basically pandering to the Nuts and Zoo crowd (though you won't see me not linking to it).

In other words, what you see is what you get - Jennifer's Body is a fun, spiky, pop horror movie that isn't meant to do anything other than entertain and titillate. You'll see funnier, scarier and sexier films this year, but this is far from a black mark on Megan Fox and Diablo Cody's books. You go, girls.

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