Jennifer’s Body (2009)
In the town of Devil’s Kettle live a couple of girls who have been friends their whole lives: superhot Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) and bookish Needy Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried). Needy has always been the foil of Jennifer’s whims, and more or less does everything she wants her to. Our story sees the two girls, under Jennifer’s instruction going to a local dive bar to see a band from the city, Low Shoulder, led by the quirky Nikolai (Adam Brody). After a fire burns the bar to the ground, a slightly in shock Jennifer takes up Nikolai’s offer of a ride in his band’s van. Needy does NOT take him up on the offer.
Later that night, Needy is at home when Jennifer turns up, covered in blood, and clearly in a worse state of shock that she was after the fire. Of course Needy immediately thinks that something horrible has happened to her, but what HAS happened is a lot worse than anything Needy could have imagined.
Jennifer is no longer the same girl as what she used to be: no, Jennifer is now a succubus, needing the flesh of men to sustain her beauty, and when she doesn’t consume, she starts to, well, go off. Unfortunately for Needy, their lifelong friendship has given them somewhat of a connection, and the burden of Jennifer’s secret plays on Needy’s conscience… especially when Jennifer’s deadly affections turn to Needy’s boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons).
What will she do? How did Jennifer get like this? Can any of them be saved?
Diablo Cody, writer of indie smash hit film Juno, is responsible for the script for this film (and has a cameo as a bartender) and whilst her story and dialogue in that film was a pleasure, this feels a little forced, whether that is the fault of the performances or the script I am not sure, but it really feels like the script is deliberately trying to ‘speak’ to the youth of the time. I found that the script for Jennifer’s Body affected me the same way that Kevin Smith’s and Joss Whedon’s body of work did: at first I found them to be a breath of fresh air, but eventually found that someone had dropped an egg fart in my breathing space.
The director, Karyn Kusama, who previously directed Aeon Flux and Girlfight, has a wonderful eye. Visually this film is of a high standard: the images of the waterfall, called Devil’s Kettle Falls, of which the town gets its name, which empties into in a glacial pothole in Judge C. R. Magney State Park in Minnesota, USA are as off-putting as they are amazing. The whole film is a pleasure to look at, and not just because of Fox and Seyfried. Kusama has set some scenes whose colors should never work together, and yet somehow do.
Every shot of the cast is amazing as well. Kusama has created this lush portraiture style that really shots the cast off well, and when you consider that cinema can potentially have a person’s face on a screen roughly 30 foot buy 70 foot, that’s brave because there is no hiding any imperfections one might have, and when you consider that for most actors their face is their fortune… wow!
The director has left some fun and occasionally clever visual cues here and there as well, such as a character playing a pinball machine called ‘Fire’ just before a fire breaks out, and the fact that the school is performing ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’, another tale of sisterly murder and betrayal. There are others, but I’ll let you find them.
Megan Fox deserves a lot of credit for the efforts she went to in this performance. She lost weight for the role, so when the succubus needs to look hungry, the make up applied makes Fox looks really sick and emaciated. It is a brave decision for a then young actress to allow herself to look repulsive when you consider that her acting ability may NOT be the reason for her popularity.
Also keep your eyes open for some interesting cameos, including everyone’s favorite artificial human Lance Henrickson, and J. K. Simmons sporting the ultimate hair-don’t!
I did enjoy this film, but essentially it was nothing more than a distraction with an OK story helped by Seyfried and Fox’s characters unusual connection. It seems to be a metaphor for when one grows out of their friends, and sometimes we do. Diablo Cody’s writing showed some real promise with Juno but feels a bit lackluster here: the direction and cinematography is a highpoint.
There is a series of deleted scenes, titled Dead Boys, Jennifer Check is Gross, Needy Confronts Jennifer, Who’s Cindy Crawford, Needy Faces the Band and Ass, Gas or Grass. As expected, these scenes are superfluous and the film is better off without them.
We also have quite possibly one of the worst gag reels ever. Normally I get a bit of a laugh from these things, but nothing at all with these ones.
WISIA: I think Fox and Seyfried are charming enough to make this a re-watcher, but not a regular one… honestly, this is probably the first time I’ve watched it in ten years.
This review was done with the Australian bluray release of the film.