Jennifer's Body

What a disappointment this is. Written by Oscar winner Diablo Cody (Juno), one expects a witty out-of-left-field take on this vampirific tale, but the actual result is a generic and derivative horror opus that offers few surprises. No wonder it was DOA at the US box office.

Fox, splendid to look at of course but yet to show full acting credentials, is the gorgeous high school student Jennifer who attends a performance by an indie rock group with best friend Needy (Seyfried). A fire erupts and something dark and mysterious occurs. The upshot is that Jennifer displays a hankering for human flesh. If not satiated her skin doesn't look good and she fails to glow, a pressing problem for a teenager with raging hormones. Needy is a spectacle wearing, conscientious student with a dorky boyfriend (Simmons). Quite what she sees in Jennifer is difficult to fathom at first as they hardly ever have a good time together. Murders start occuring in the sleepy town they live in, with victims' entrails being eaten. Needy is slow on the uptake but soon sees her demonic friend's true colours. Can she save her beau before he becomes Jennifer's next item on the menu?

This whole scenario, equating a young girl's sexuality with bloodlust and terror, could have been hilarious. Unfortunately, the attempts at humour are mild and half-hearted. It seems more intent on being a conventional horror story and here it fails too. The jolts fail to scare and it remains curiously bloodless. Praise must go to the gifted Seyfried though, who imbues the character of Needy with the right amount of innocence, determination and vulnerability. She's a terrific actress saddled with a second-rate script and is deserving of far better material than this routine effort. It's unimaginative and lacks bite.
SECOND OPINION | Stuart O'Connor *
Does director Karyn Kusama have compromising photographs of Rupert Murdoch locked away in a safe somewhere? Because I'm wondering how she ever got the job of helming this mess. Exactly what has she done before now? Made two pretty mediocre films – Girlfight (2000) and Æon Flux (2005) – and directed one episode of the TV series The L Word. Not the CV you'd expect of someone given the task of directing a fairly major release such as this ... so Strike One right there.

Strike Two is the fact that the star of the film can't act. I apologise to all those horny teenage boys who drool all over the admittedly attractive Ms Fox on the internet, with one hand on their mouse and the other somewhere in their groinal region. But seriously, what has she really done apart from drape herself over some machinery, while pouting and looking pretty, in a couple of films about giant killer robots? Nothing. In her first starring role, she fails on all counts. She converys almost zero emotion, and is dead behind the eyes, making it impossible to sympathise with her character. And Strike Three comes in the form of the script. I'm sorry, Diablo, but as much as I loved Juno, I loathe Jennifer's Body. Your trademark zingy dialogue has gone missing, and seriously, who is going to believe the head cheerleader being best friends with the school dork?

The only asset is the film is Seyfried – who, as Doug says, deserves much better than this. Schoolgirl-themed horror films, when done well, can be brilliant – see Ginger Snaps, or Carrie, as prime examples. Jennifer's Body, I'm afraid, isn't anywhere near model material.

Official Site
Jennifer's Body at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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