Monday, 6 July 2015

Jennifer's Body

Title: Jennifer’s Body
Director: Karyn Kusama
Released: 2009
Starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, J.K. Simons, Amy Sedaris, Adam Brody

Plot: Needy (Seyfried) is a nerdy and reserved bookworm who has an unlikely friendship with the popular and arrogant cheerleader Jennifer (Fox).  Things however take a turn for the strange when Jennifer is turned into a man eating succubus.

Review: Despite originally hating this film when it was originally released I was convinced to give it a re-watch after Christine Makepeace (Author of “Wake Up Maggie” let alone one half of “The Feminine Critique” podcast) named it as one of her picks on “The Under the Radar Movie Draft” we recently ran on the “MBDS Showcase”. So after hearing her fight for this film I thought it was only fair that I re-watch it to see if perhaps I had been wrong with my initial impression of this film.

Directed by Karyn Kusama who made her debut with the fantastic but sadly overlooked “Girlfight” before getting her first big mainstream film with the disappointing “Aeon Flux”. Still despite the negative reviews there was a lot of excitement surrounding the release of this film, especially with Diablo Cody on scripting duties, who was also coming in hot from her Oscar win for “Juno”, hoping that lightening would strike twice with her script for this film, especially being a self-confessed horror fan.  Still what got though was a film filled with flaws and misfires which is only made the more frustrating when there is clearly a good movie in here, only one which is being buried by the numerous issues the film has.

Opening with Needy confined to solitary confinement in an insane asylum, were she proceeds to narrate the story of how she came to be there. Worryingly this is the high point for the film with Seyfried clearly relishing the chance to play something different than her usual romantic leads, especially when here she gets to be classified as being a kicker, a title she fully justifies during this opening sequence when she send an orderly flying across the room with a single kick.

Flashing back to the start though we still get to enjoy Seyfried playing against type with Needy being essentially the complete opposite of what we’ve come to expect from here, while she shows a willingness to dress down which really makes this character rather than just doing the usual Hollywood thing of putting the hot girl in glasses, here she goes the whole hog. Fox meanwhile gets to play her usual type of role as the hot popular girl, only here she does get alittle more meat to her role thanks to Cody’s script which includes such witty gems as

“Yeah, right. I’m not even a backdoor-virgin anymore, thanks to Roman. By the way, that hurts. I couldn’t even go to flags the next day. I had to stay home and sit on a bag of frozen peas”

Fox equally makes for the perfect succubus, especially having the looks which make it easy to understand why it’s so easy for her to find men to devour. This being said the real strength of her perferomance here is playing the role with her eyes which frequently seem to hold an hypnotic quality especially during the scenes in which she moves in for the kill or the memorable nude swimming sequence.

Gore wise the film saves most of its tricks for the final quarter, with Kusama teasing out the kills with sudden cut-away, usually as Jennifer is going in for the kill. We do however get some colourful descriptions for her victims remains with "Lasagne with teeth" certainly being at the top.

Sadly though for all the sharp quips and pop culture references  Cody’s script also suffers from her usual flaws in that while she happy to craft strong and whitty female characters, the male characters are seemingly only there to either be emasculated chumps or over sexed sleaze bags with no characters in the middle ground bar perhaps for an early Chris Pratt appearance which is essentially a glorified cameo.  The chief offender amongst these being Needy’s boyfriend Chip (Simmons) who is written so irritatingly weak he can’t seem to do anything unless it’s with Needy while she spends the film stringing him along with the prospect of sex when she feels his interest might be wavering. At the same time is shown having zero qualms about going with Jennifer when given the chance. Bizarrely the fact that he cheats on Needy is never shown in any kind of negative light, even if he does get punished for his actions.

The thing which killed this film dead for me though was Adam Brody, who here playing the lead singer of the band “Low Shoulder” who uses Jennifer as a human sacrifice to Satan in order to achieve fame and success. However going off the description Needy’s voice over gives us, it would seem that this character was supposed to look more like an early Nine Inch Nails Trent Razak than a winey emo kid that Brody carries himself as while once again wheeling out the same performance he’s been giving since he first showed up in “The O.C” were he was interesting for the first season and then wrongly given main billing for the seasons which followed when he should have been left as the funny sidekick. Yes there are other actors such as Michael Cera who get away frequently with such performance recycling but Brody is not one of them. Here his smarmy performance and date rapist charm, made me wish I could climb into the film, if only to punch him in the face for the sheer irritancy that caused me throughout this film. Here despite supposedly being this evil force, it is never conveyed with any sense of believability with Brody once more just coming off as irritating (much like their one song we are frequently subjected to) than any kind of threat, while his aswell as the band’s comeuppance has the feeling of an afterthought seeing how it comes during the credits.  

As much as I wanted to love this film, the flaws far outweigh the positives and making it much more of a chore to get through, while I could see it being a more enjoyable experience if it hadn’t featured Brody who as I mentioned already kills this one stone dead stopping what could have been a fun yet disposable teen horror and instead meaning we end up with more of a stumbling misfire that no amount of Faux lesbian antics is going to correct.


  1. Never saw it and by the looks of it never will. Thanks for the review, now, how can Diablo Cody go from Oscar win to this crap is what I don't get. It's like the magic is gone...the muse that once fueled her dissapeared and she wrote this.

    1. That's the curse of the Oscar's for you I guess. Saying that I did enjoy "Young Adult" which she did next, but seemingly these days she's happier script doctoring than trying to really establish her presence as a screenwriter.

  2. Im sure she'll return at some point. Script doctoring makes good screenwriters.

  3. I liked Juno and really dug her book Candy Girl which told about her life as a Stripper in Minneapolis(How The hell did I not know she would be an Oscar winning writer while I was getting a lap dance, DAAAMMMMNN!!!) A much better movie about girls who become creatures that feed is All Cheerleaders Die(Directed by Lucky McKee of May)

    1. I've yet to see "All Cheerleaders Die" but will eventually get around to it as I'm a fan of Lucky McKee's films as we discussed back on episode 3 of the MBDS showcase when we looked at "May" -

      I enjoyed her book and would have liked to have seen her write more, but she went from writing her stripping blog to "Juno" so not sure there's any story to tell that we haven't heard before.


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