The pitch for “Jennifer’s Body” is certainly attention-grabbing. Mix “Transfomer’s” sexpot Megan Fox and “Juno” screenwriter and all round “it’ girl Diablo Cody and the result should be pure gold. Well, pure gore splattered gold in this case. “Jennifer’s Body” leaves behind the world of giant robots and pregnant teens for a bloody story about demonic transference and a cheerleading succubus who feeds on the intestines of teenage boys.
Despite its name the town of Devil’s Kettle, Minnesota is not a demonic hot spot. Not at least until a rock band named Low Shoulder plays at a local bar. At the concert are Jennifer Check (Fox) and Needy Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried). Best friends since they were kids the underage girls are there to check out the band, and in Jennifer’s case, specifically the lead singer. When a fire breaks out in the bar, chaos ensues and as most of the concert goers are trapped inside, Jennifer and Needy make it out, but something is isn’t right. Jennifer is glassy eyed and unresponsive, and when Needy last sees her, in the band’s van. Later, when Jennifer comes back to visit Needy she isn’t so pretty anymore—unless blood covered, tar vomiting girls turn you on. Something has happened to Jennifer, but what? When boys from school start to go missing Needy thinks she might know…
“Jennifer’s Body” breathes the same air as the great Canadian horror film “Ginger Snaps.” Both are inventive takes on established horror mythology—in Ginger’s case it was the werewolf legend here it is demonic possession—both feature humor and lots of blood and guts. But—you had to know there was a “but” coming—where “Ginger Snaps” had effortless dialogue that sounded like real teenagers talking to one another, “Jennifer’s Body” is weighed down by the overly cute pen of Diablo Cody.
In Cody’s world teens talk as though they have Hollywood screenwriters feeding them lines. Oh wait! They do. They drop sparkling bon mots as easily as Dorothy Parker after her fifth martini in the Oak Room. Cody’s characters don’t get jealous, they get “jello;” they don’t feel ill they feel “boo hoo,” and when they curse they say things like “cheese and fries.” I’m all for inventive language but much of the dialogue here seems to be trying a bit too hard.
Cudos to Cody though for coming up with an inventive story and peppering the script with laughs. When she describes one of the creature’s victims resembling “lasgna with teeth,” when they found him it’s funny. It’s dark humor reminiscent of the horror comedies of the 1980s like “An American Werewolf in London” and “The Toxic Avenger” that covered the laughs with lots of red stuff.
At the heart of “Jennifer’s Body”—or should that be soul?—is Megan Fox. As the victim of a botched satanic ritual—they apparently don’t work if the sacrifice isn’t a virgin—she seems to be having more fun here than in either of the “Transformers” movies, but despite being this year’s Zeitgeist grabber she’s upstaged by Amanda Seyfried. Only in a movie like this could Seyfried be portrayed as the “dorky, plain girl.” I guess it’s because she wears glasses, but there is nothing dorky or plain about Seyfried or her character.
“Jennifer’s Body” is bound to grab a teenage audience—the gratuitous kissing scene between Fox and Seyfried alone is bound to sell tickets to many a seventeen-year-old boy—but despite being an enjoyable bit of fun, likely won’t have the same impact as Cody’s attention grabbing work on “Juno.”