Jennifer's Body is ultimately a goofy sub-horror film that has some cool moments accompanied by Megan Fox hotness but is held back by a story that seems a bit unrealized in ideals and how straight forward it is. Maybe the goal of the film was to deliver a simple and straightforward horror flick but in that regard it really doesn't stack up to the best the genre has to offer but the movie is still entertaining to watch.
Story is decent and has some nice dialogue. The cast turns in nice performances with Adam Brody being a nice standout. Karyn Kusama doesn't resort to typical horror directing trends and instead keeps things varied for the most part. Oh yeah, there's this unknown actress named Megan Fox who happens to be smoking hot.
While the story is decent at times it feels a bit unrealized in terms of execution and the dialogue can be a bit too catchphrase ridden at times. The movie may disappoint some horror and gore hounds out there since it doesn't offer a lot. It's almost a bit disappointing that the extent of Jennifer's demonic form is just having a really wide jaw with pointy teeth.
Horror movies as of late have followed the same predictable plots and trends which either revolves around a crazed killer being on the loose or some type of haunting or ghostly apparition that’s causing terror on normal and unsuspecting people. Obviously those types of stories are old horror plot devices that will continue to be seen and in some cases when properly executed they can be pretty damn good. When the first trailer for “Jennifer’s Body” was released a lot of people didn’t know what to think. There was no doubt that Megan Fox looked amazing in the trailer but the actual tone of the trailer seemed a bit off and most didn’t know if the film would ultimately resort to being nothing more than an hour and half of Megan Fox eye candy despite the fact that Diablo Cody (Juno) wrote the film. Well it actually turns out that Jennifer’s Body isn’t that bad as it’s a film that never takes itself too seriously and does a reasonable job in getting things over and building some sort of suspense and intrigue about the story. But horror fans may want to set their expectations on gore and genuine scares a bit low to avoid disappointment.
In the little town of Devil’s Kettle Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Anita (Amanda Seyfried) are best friends despite one being a hot and popular cheerleader and the other being a typical and somewhat geeky girl whose friends and teachers nickname “Needy.” Jennifer and Needy have been best friends since they were little kids and their bond runs pretty deep despite the differences in their lives. One day Jennifer drags Needy to the towns only bar to see the indie rock band Low Shoulder perform since Jennifer thinks the lead singer is hot. Things seem to be going good at the bar with Jennifer flirting with the bands lead singer Nikolai (Adam Brody) but things begin a downward spiral with Needy overhearing Nikolai discussing if Jennifer is the “right one” and if she’s a virgin which is required for some sort of ritual. To cap things off the bar catches on fire halfway through Low Shoulder’s performance with most of the patrons being killed but Jennifer and Needy are able to escape. After this terrible ordeal Jennifer is then scooped up by Nikolai and Needy watches helplessly as her best friend is taken away by this shady rock band in their van. Later that night Jennifer show’s up at Needy’s house bloody and disheveled and that’s where things take a turn for the worst as Jennifer isn’t the same girl she used to be and seems to be something else.
If you haven’t seen the trailers for the film Jennifer becomes a demon that needs to feed on boys to survive and keep her hot appearance going on. If she doesn’t then she looks pale and somewhat frumpy like all the other girls do. The actual plot of a young hot lady preying on men and ultimately eating them isn’t anything new in movies or TV shows but at least it isn’t something we see on a regular basis so the film has that going for it. But what makes the film works in a way, but may still disappoint some in the process, is its actual tone and how it goes about telling this tale of a foxy lady who eats men. Despite dudes being eaten it’s not really a horror movie and if anything it falls more into the sub-horror genre. There are a few moments where it plays up the scare factor such as a scene where Needy is searching her house after the fire at the bar since she heard a strange sound. But even in that scene director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Aeon Flux) plays things up a bit and toys around with the clichés and conventions that accompany a scene like that. When it comes to gore the movie is also pretty light on that as well. Yeah there are a few scenes where you see some guts, blood or the shadow of a dude being eaten alive but even that is pretty tame and is far from being gore porn. Instead of playing up the horror aspects a lot and being nothing but scares and killings the film plays up the relationship between Jennifer and Needy and how Needy wants to believe that Jennifer isn’t do all these things despite seeing it for herself on a few occasions.
The movie strikes a nice balance between the dynamic between Jennifer and Needy and the one Needy has with her boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons). Thankfully the film never has too much high-school drama or endless teen drama clichés that we’ve seen in the past. The film of course does have a few clichés though mostly that revolve around archetypical characters and certain “I’m a dumb horny teen” scenarios but those at times seem to playing things with a wink and a nod and aren’t the result of poor writing or acting. The acting itself is pretty good with Amanda Seyfried giving Needy a nice amount of depth and an excellent sense of growth to the character who at the end of the film is a different and harder edged girl. To the surprise of many Megan Fox also turns in a nice performance that isn’t just “hey look at me I’m hot and my breasts are slightly exposed” for the course of the movie. Prior to Jennifer’s body becoming the residing place for a demon Megan Fox does a nice job of making Jennifer seem like a somewhat average and nice girl despite her somewhat slutty traits. She definitely has a lot more to do than in Transformers 2 where she resulted to just being eye candy and she definitely knows how to handle herself and shows a bit of range in some of the sections where Jennifer is in her “I’m going to eat you” mode.
The supporting cast is equally solid with Johnny Simmons’s performance as Chip feeling like an actual teenage dude instead of some awful Hollywood stereotype. Actor J.K Simmons has a small but memorable role in the film as a high-school teacher with a claw hand and a wonderful set of curly hair which is accompanied by a nice Minnesota accent. I wasn’t expecting a lot from Adam Brody as the rock singer Nikolai but his performance was one of my favorites in the film due to that slight hint of rock sleaze that is accompanied by knowledge of the occult. His reasons for sacrificing Jennifer are pretty simple and Brody is funny as hell in the sacrifice scene which culminates in his band singing a classic rock song from the 80s just before he stabs Jennifer. Horror movie and Aliens fans should also dig a brief cameo by a certain actor at the end of the film which was a nice addition.
What makes the acting pretty good besides the actors genuine talent is of course the writing itself and when you have an Academy Award winning writer things shape up to be pretty good although expectations can be a bit high. Writer Diablo Cody puts together a world that is somewhat satirical of how real people act and once again uses her trademark of characters having snappy dialogue that is filled with catchphrases and nicknames. Despite that being her trademark the constant flow of back-to-back catchphrases and nicknames can be a bit much at times. Most of the time it works perfectly as it helps show the bond that Jennifer and Needy has along with making them feel like real teenage girls. But in a few instances hearing a catchphrase repeated 3 times just feels off and sometimes they can just go straight by your head due to how fast certain dialogue exchanges are which leaves you wondering what the hell was just said. It would’ve been nice if Diablo added a bit more depth to some of the films proceedings since things were on a pretty standard path and there were never any interesting folks in the storytelling road instead of just being predictable as hell at times. There are a few lines at the end that just feel a bit forced and are somewhat lame one liners that you wouldn’t really expect to come from a writer like Diablo. Despite these few issues the writing is still pretty reasonable and is better than some of the other crap we’ve gotten from horror films.
But one slight issue I have with the story is the actual demonic possession of Jennifer. When we see Jennifer prior to becoming a demon she’s a hot teenage girl who has all the men in the town on her strings and her general attitude is that of any hot teen girl which is being a bit vapid but still being a bit nice. When we see Jennifer after the demonic incident she somewhat seems the same except she’s more outspoken about things and is of course more active in pursuing men so she can eat them. But the problem I had with the film is that it’s never really made clear if the demonic Jennifer still has her soul and is making these decisions by herself, with a bit of demonic evil in her, or if she’s purely a demon and the Jennifer we once knew is officially dead. There are a few scenes that suggest it may be still be Jennifer inside when she’s eating boys but I wish that her attitude change was explored a bit more. One can come away with the impression that due to what happened to her and this new found power she has, which includes the ability to heal, she could’ve gone drunk with power which is enhanced by her demonic nature but that almost seems a bit too shallow in a sense. And if it indeed was still Jennifer then why did she become such a bitch toward her best friend?
Other than that there weren’t any big issues with the film aside from a small plot of Needy and Jennifer being such good friends that Needy can know and feel when Jennifer is in her house without being announced of her arrival. This angle is expanded upon in the film as Needy’s bond and connection with Jennifer is enhanced somehow as she has visions of blood dripping from the ceilings and sees Jennifer all bloody over a boy she ate sitting in her bedroom. It’s never really hinted at why this is the case between the two, or at least on Needys’ side, aside from it perhaps being tied to a pair of “BFFs” necklaces the two girls wears which plays a role in the climax of the film.
Jennifer’s Body isn’t a stellar movie but at times it can be entertaining. The film knows what it is and doesn’t try too hard to either be a horror movie or some sort of teen comedy; instead it’s a nice hybrid of the two that actually has a slight edge to it. The acting is good across the board and Megan Fox proves she can actually act when given the chance and has decent material to work with. Director Karyn Kusama gives the film a nice style and has some interesting camera shots and well put together scenes that play up old horror clichés with a wink and a nod. If you’re a horror fan you should get a kick out of the film as long as you don’t expect a high amount of suspense or gore. If you’re just an average movie-goer the film is worth a watch on a lazy afternoon since it isn’t the terrible mess that some had expected it to be. It would’ve been a nice if the story was a bit expanded and was elevated above some of the story clichés and predictability the film has especially when you factor in the pedigree of write Diablo Cody. Jennifer’s Body is just a nice goofy movie that has some good moments and eye candy and it’s just nice to see something that isn’t a remake of a Japanese horror movie or has the words SAW in the title.