From Diablo Cody, the writer of Juno, comes a movie much more fitting for her name: Jennifer's Body, a sharp-tongued horror-comedy about an attractive cheerleader - Megan Fox - who is possessed by a flesh-hungry demon. Though not perfect, Jennifer's Body is a slick, witty and at times creepy film that any horror fan, especially those of the male species, will enjoy.
In Jennifer's Body, Amanda Seyfried ("Big Love", Mamma Mia) stars as Needy, a slightly nerdy teenager who happens to be BFF with the hottest girl in school, Jennifer, played by Fox. Against her boyfriend's arguments, Needy is talked into going to see a band that Jennifer wants to see one night. A short time later, the bar has gone up in flames and Jennifer has been taken by the band to be sacrificed to Satan. After being murdered, Jennifer rises from the grave, now possessed by a demon, and starts to feast on the young men in town. Needy is the only one who sees what's going on and she soon realizes that it will be up to her to stop her demonic friend.
Jennifer's Body didn't do that well in theaters, primarily because the marketing department had no idea how to convince audiences it was worth seeing. "From the writer of Juno" doesn't speak very well to horror audiences, and the movie itself, which hovers somewhere in between horror, comedy and satire, isn't the easiest to express in two minutes. But don't be swayed by the trailers: Jennifer's Body is one of the smartest movies of the year.
In the vein Cody's Oscar-winning screenplay for Juno, Jennifer's Body is full of witty, tongue-in-cheek jabs at society and pop-culture. The story itself is nothing incredible or original, but the dialogue that pieces everything together is simply perfect. As in Juno, Cody's characters speak in exaggerated English; no line of dialogue goes un-tethered to some cultural reference, and the reference is usually razor sharp.
Stars Fox and Seyfried do well in their respective roles. Fox has yet to prove that she can act beyond her looks, and Jennifer's Body does nothing to suggest otherwise; but she is right for the role and plays it deliciously well. As attractive as she is, she also manages to look incredibly creepy at times; never have man-eating demonic cheerleaders been so much fun. As for Seyfried, she once again turns in a fine performance as the protagonist. The young actress continues to make a name for herself for all the right reasons, and Jennifer's Body is one of the few horror movies that actually seems like a good career choice for someone in her position.
Though the movie relies tremendously on Cody's screenplay and the actors who bring it to life, props need to be given to director Karyn Kusama. Kusama, who directed the awful Aeon Flux - but who also did Girlfight - has created a visually stunning and slick film. The camera zooms, pans and flashes throughout the movie, but rarely does it feel like it's just for show. With smart writing comes smart directing.
As good as Jennifer's Body is, it isn't perfect. It's a great satire, but those looking for a straight horror flick or a straight horror-comedy may find the movie somewhat lacking in a few parts. It takes some time to get going, and even when it does it neither attains a level of sheer suspense nor laugh-out-loud antics; in other words, it's funny but not that funny, creepy but definitely not scary. It's a thinking man's horror movie, and not all horror fans fit into that category.
Still, Jennifer's Body is a smartly written and slickly directed horror flick that boasts lots of Megan Fox, a lesbian make out scene, some extremely bloody moments and lots of socially critiquing humor. It isn't for everyone, but it exceeds expectations at every step.
The movie is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray, though the special features are generally lacking. The Blu-Ray does boast both the theatrical and extended versions of the film, as well as two commentaries (one by Kusama and Cody, the other just by Kusama), but everything else is somewhat lacking in meat. The deleted scenes are primarily just extended scenes, and a few other featurettes - including the disappointing gag reel - are just montages from the movie. The Blu-Ray also includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, video diaries and a digital copy.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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