Details: (MA15+), 102 mins, United States, English
Synopsis: When small town high school student Jennifer (Megan Fox) is possessed by a hungry demon, she transitions from being “high school evil” - gorgeous (and doesn't she know it), stuck up and ultra-attitudinal - to the real deal: evil/evil. The glittering beauty becomes a pale and sickly creature jonesing for a meaty snack, and guys who never stood a chance with the heartless babe, take on new lustre in the light of her insatiable appetite. Meanwhile, Jennifer's best friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried), long relegated to living in Jennifer's shadow, must step-up to protect the town's young men, including her nerdy boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons).
BFF bloodbath is DOA.
The lead character in screenwriter Diablo Cody’s Oscar-winning charmer Juno was a thinly-veiled version of the teen self that Cody aspired to be: a smart, sweet kid around whom a precise film-world was constructed, and which made sense to us, the audience, when seen through her eyes.
Cody’s follow-up – the hormone-fuelled, BFF-bloodfest Jennifer’s Body – fails because the film world that the pop-culture princess creates is nothing but movie artifice. That’s a big no-no in the world of horror, where even the most way-out premise needs to touch on some aspect of its audience’s real-life fears.
Working with director Karyn Kusama, who debuted in 2000 with the stunning female-empowerment boxing-drama Girlfight, Cody’s aim is to satirise the savagery of fickle teen friendships. The impact of puberty on a young high-schooler’s mind and body is metaphorically realised as a demonic transference, and the film pits lifelong friends, mega-hot Jennifer Check (an up-for-anything Megan Fox) and nerdy Anita ‘Needy’ Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) in a supernatural battle for dominance over the hearts, minds and innards of the male population of Devil’s Kettle High.
In one of the film’s better conceits, a low-rent indie band called Low Shoulder (featuring the reliable Adam Brody as the vile lead singer) determines Jennifer to be the ideal sacrifice to Satan, that might serve as a pathway to the notoriety, fame and fortune to which they feel entitled. (“There are so many of us, and we're all so cute and it's like if you don't get on Letterman or some retarded soundtrack, you're screwed, okay? Satan is our only hope.”) However, the plan is contingent on a virgin sacrifice, and Jennifer has long since relinquished that crown (as stated in one of Cody’s less Oscar-worthy lines – “I'm not even a backdoor-virgin anymore”).
And so we learn that when a satanic offering goes bad, the sacrificial lamb returns as a possessed, corpuscle-craving succubus. Needy notices subtle changes in Jennifer (thin blue veins in her opaque skin, black goo spewing from her mouth, levitation…) and she sets out to save the few boys left in Devil’s Kettle by offing her lifelong friend by whatever (bloody) means possible.
Parts of Jennifer’s Body are likable (no pun intended). Fox and Seyfried seem to relish the excesses of their roles, and they throw everything into their scenes (especially an excessively moist lesbian kiss that will have fanboys in fits); Kusama is a talented director who can frame and edit a spooky scene particularly well.
But all three are hamstrung by the pretensions of Diablo Cody’s script. In trying to create a modern horror take on Mean Girls (2004), in which the protagonists redefine their rivalries through physical instead of verbal viciousness, she has merely delivered an updated, dumbed-down rehash of Carrie (1976).
Watch Films Online
Films on SBS TV
SBS Film Guide to...
Celebrate Australian filmmaking with this home-grown season. Starts May 25.
A month of movies with an edge. Saturday nights in April.