Megan Fox stars as a cheerleader who's taken over by a demon and starts eating the local boys.
Splicing horror with comedy is not an easy thing to get right. For every Shaun Of The Dead, there’s a Lesbian Vampire Killers. Undaunted, Jennifer’s Body arrives with two names attached that guarantee interest, and they’re both female.
The first is Diablo Cody. Thanks to indie hit Juno, the stripper-turned-Oscar-winning screenwriter is now considered hipper than Mad Men, Bat For Lashes and the garden bar at the Chateau Marmont put together. Juno was spiky enough to not make it too jarring when Cody’s next script turned out to centre on a demon-possessed cheerleader.
The second is Megan Fox. She’s trodden this turf before, as a bitchy high-schooler in 2004’s Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen, but since becoming an A-lister she’s been stuck in bland, pretty-girl roles. If the frank, fresh-talking actress, who recently compared Michael Bay to Hitler, has been pining to be bad, here she gets her wish. As the owner of Jennifer’s bodacious body and the flirty, dirty villain of the piece, Fox purrs, “You give me such a wetty”, pukes up torrents of blue gunk and becomes a literal maneater, sinking her teeth into unfortunate jocks. Optimus Prime would be appalled.
Both ladies, who share a passion for tattoos and thrash-rock, clearly have a blast with the material. Cody hasn’t toned down her trademark smart-alecky slang-talk (or the pop-culture licks — the curse is put on Jennifer not by a gypsy, but an indie band desperate to be as big as Maroon 5), while Fox looks more at ease aiming her “smart-bombs” (breasts) at “salty morsels” (cute boys) than she ever did learning life lessons from sentient trucks. When she’s chewing on Cody’s words, it’s silly, campy fun, though there’s occasional over-quirk — “It’s freak-tarded!” is the new “Your eggo is preggo!”
A bigger problem lies with the scares. As Jennifer rampages and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) realises something’s taken control of her friend — it takes a while as, oddly, Jennifer’s personality doesn’t change much despite the fact her body has a new, satanic tenant — there’s a series of scenes which are supposed to be actually frightening. We know this because there’s spooky music on the soundtrack, but director Karyn Kusama (veteran of oestro-pics Aeon Flux and Girlfight) resolutely fails to deliver any tension. It doesn’t help that Jennifer’s jaws are stretched open with shoddy CGI, or that one death scene involves reaction shots from forest animals, or that the grue’s been toned down from Cody’s original script. One victim is described as looking like “lasagne with teeth” after falling for Jennifer’s siren call; some of that nastiness on screen would have given the film some real sting.
As is, we’ll have to make do with this well-meaning but muddled movie, where earnest stabs at real emotion rub uneasily against the generally snarky vibe. Jennifer’s Body has a cool score, Wikipedia gags and a handful of fun set-pieces, including a sex scene with supernatural interruptions and an ace punchline. It’s just not the biting high-school satire/bugfuck-crazy zombie film we were hoping for.
Fox is fun as a demonic harpy, but sadly the meeting of Hollywoods two rocknroll queens is closer to safe studio product than slash-and-burn envelope-pusher.