Written by Paul Spragg Monday, 02 November 2009 19:32
Popular high school cheerleader Jennifer (Megan Fox) and geeky kid Anita, aka Needy (Anna Seyfried), are unlikely friends who have been inseparable since childhood. But when Jennifer heads off with a visiting band one night and comes back radically changed, Needy starts to realise that her friend’s newly acquired cannibalistic tendencies might just put a damper on their friendship.
I loved Oscar-winning writer Diablo Cody’s first movie, Juno. I even enjoyed the TV show she created, United States of Tara. But with Jennifer’s Body, something has gone very awry. The best adjective to describe it is leaden, with none of the swift pacing you’d expect from a horror movie to ramp up the tension. Instead there’s a scene where Jennifer kills someone, then a comic scene at school, then another murder and so on; it's painfully rigid in its plotting and not feeling like a smooth, flowing piece, rather like two entirely different films spliced together. Even Cody’s trademark teen-speak dialogue lets her down here. Perhaps it’s because Ellen Page delivered it so perfectly as Juno that another character speaking similarly just feels wrong, or perhaps it’s simply that Megan Fox isn’t as good an actress. Either way, it feels forced and unnecessary.
Fox herself looks as stunning as ever, even letting her image be tarnished for scenes where she looks deathly pale and ill between feeds. Yet while her vapid and one-dimensional performance fits the character’s soulless persona, it makes it impossible to get to know the girl within. Amanda Seyfried carries the meat of the emotion as Needy, slowly coming to realise that not only does Jennifer have to be taken out, but also that she may not be the BFF she believed, but she’s not given enough to bounce off of in Fox’s performance and too often it feels as though she’s acting into a void.
That’s not to say it’s all bad. There are some strong comedy moments and some gruesome deaths, though most of the shocks are so clichéd (the bird on the stairs, the shadow of someone in a house) that it feels as though the film is just going through the motions. JK Simmons is great as a quirky teacher but hugely underused, and the whole film lacks the high calibre supporting cast that made Juno such a joy.
While those who wish to appreciate the physicality of Megan Fox will be well served, Jennifer’s Body offers little more than empty titillation and as such is a big disappointment in the horror movie stakes.
Stars Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried
Director Karyn Kusama
Screenplay Diablo Cody
Running Time 1hr 42mins
Opens November 4