Sunday, 8 November 2009

Jennifer's Body

Director: Karyn Kusama
Starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried & Johnny Simmons

A fun horror/comedy with a perfectly cast Megan Fox and enjoyable performance from Seyfried though, while entertaining, is not as mean or as funny as it could have been.

Following on from her Oscar-winning success writing the screenplay for the film Juno, Diablo Cody’s follow up project was always going to be under scrutiny. Cody’s follow up is Jennifer’s Body which, on the surface, appears to be well suited to the writers wit with it advertised as a high school horror in the tone of Heathers but with the supernatural thrown in to add more gore and a feminist tone with it’s lead protagonist and antagonists being women. The resulting film is one that is quite fun in places with Diablo Cody’s wit shining through at times but also disappoints slightly as it is neither as dark, witty or daring as Heathers, a film which is a clear inspiration for Jennifer’s Body.

Anita ‘Needy’ Lesnicki (Seyfried) has been best friends with Jennifer (Fox) since childhood and despite both becoming different people, Needy more academic whilst Jennifer grew to be a cheerleader, they have still remained friends. When a night out to a concert at a local bar turns into a bloodbath when the bar burns down, Jennifer leaves Needy to go with the band and when she next appears to Needy, she is covered in blood and craving meat. It soon becomes apparent to Needy that Jennifer has changed and is, perhaps, possessed as Jennifer proceeds to seduce and consume boys at their high school whilst also developing an interest in Needy’s own boyfriend Chip (Simmons). With no one willing to believe her theories, Needy takes it upon herself to stop Jennifer by any means necessary.

Jennifer’s Body has a lot of ingredients to suggest the film would be quite fun and sharp-witted. Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama, director of 2001’s Girlfight, and also starring Megan Fox who is a popular actress on the rise, less due to her acting ability and more on her appearance and personality, Jennifer’s Body looks to be a horror film with a humorous and feminist edge. The film itself does have these elements as expected, but the execution is somewhat lacking with the finished film not being as smart, mean or funny as it could have been. Heathers, released in 1989 without any supernatural horror elements, was far more daring and funny in its approach to high school life and horrors. There is still much to like in Jennifer’s Body however as Cody’s script, while not as strong as her script for Juno, still fits in plenty of snappy one liners and some of the feminist sub-text is clearly evident throughout with boys portrayed merely as predators, prey, incompetent and/or ignorant for the most part due to their desires. Jennifer’s Body also features a pretty strong, and likable, heroine in Needy.

Megan Fox is well cast in the lead role of Jennifer in the film. Whilst not a role that stretches her acting ability, it is one well suited to her star persona with it capitalising on her appearance and her personality. Fox appears to enjoy herself a lot throughout the film too as the film’s central villainess, vamping it up at every opportunity. It is Amanda Seyfried that delivers the best performance in Jennifer’s Body. Making Needy appear as innocent and devoted to Jennifer and her boyfriend Chip as necessary at the start of the film, Seyfried is able to make Needy believably smart and resourceful too and when time comes for her character to get mean in return it feels like the result of a woman pushed too far which makes the film’s prologue and epilogue all the more enjoyable. Johnny Simmons is average as the doting, all-too-na├»ve, boyfriend of Needy while the film is enjoyably filled with actors like J.K. Simmons as the girl’s dim-witted school principal and Adam Brody (of TV’s The O.C.) enjoying a villainous role as the morally bankrupt lead singer of the band which brings about Jennifer’s possession in the first place.

Overall, Jennifer’s Body is plenty of fun with enjoyable performances from Fox, Seyfried and Brody with some good jokes courtesy of writer Diablo Cody, however the film is never as dark, funny or daring as it’s talent and plot would have you expect and compares less favourably with films that have influenced Jennifer’s Body like Heathers. Fun, if a little toothless.

Rating: 3/5