jennifer's body | karyn kusama | diablo cody | megan fox | amanda seyfried | adam brody | comedy | united states | demon | possessed | possession | ritual | j.k. simmons | amy sedaris | kyle gallner | chris pratt | sal cortez | ryan levine | juan riedinger | colin askey
Film: Jennifer’s Body
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Diablo Cody
Starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried and Adam Brody
This film is one that I saw in theater when I was in college. I’ll admit the major reason was my crush on Megan Fox. I enjoyed this and even picked it up on DVD later. This is one that I periodically come back to, with the most recent viewing as part of the Summer Challenge Series over on the Podcast Under the Stairs as one of the last movies to finish that list. I’m now giving this a rewatch as a selection on the show.
Synopsis: a newly possessed high school cheerleader turns into a succubus who specializes in killing her male classmates. Can her best friend put an end to the horror?
We start this with our titular character Jennifer (Fox) lying in bed. We see a woman look through the window, Needy (Amanda Seyfried). Jennifer looks over and she is gone. We then shift to a jail or prison where Needy is now confined. We learn that she didn’t always act like this. She was meek while now being violent and aggressive. She then takes us back to what caused her to be where she is.
Needy and Jennifer are best friends. Needy is a nerd while as the synopsis alludes to, Jennifer is the head cheerleader. Needy is dating Chip (Johnny Simmons) who is in a band. Jennifer being who she is a form of bully and she wants Needy to come to the only bar in town to see a band that is playing there called Low Shoulder. Despite her hanging out with Chip, Needy gives in and decides to go.
Once there we do see that everyone is in love with Jennifer and she knows it. They go to meet with the band before the show, which is fronted by Nikolai (Adam Brody). Needy overhears them and thinks that they want to sleep with her best friend. We hear that they are looking for a virgin and Needy confirms that she is. Her tactic to sway them does the opposite though. When Needy tells her, Jennifer finds it funny and confirms that is not the case.
The band plays and a fire breaks out in the bar. There is a mad dash to get out. Not everyone is able to. Once outside, Jennifer is in shock and Nikolai steps in. He gives her a drink. He also convinces her to get in his van and come with them, which she does. This is all much to the dismay of Needy.
She goes home and calls her boyfriend. She tells him what happened and then her doorbell rings. She goes down to check, but no one there. We see a shadow move behind her. She gets off the phone and checks the kitchen. It turns out that it is Jennifer. She is bloody and opens the refrigerator. She takes out a chicken and devours it. Something isn’t right with her as she throws up a thick black liquid on the floor. Whatever came out of her is moving and freaks out Needy. Jennifer also growls in a weird voice and leaves.
The next morning, Needy looks tired and we learn that she was up all night to cleaning the mess. Jennifer on the other hand comes in and looking amazing. The whole town is shook up after what happened. Strange things happen from here. Needy blames Jennifer. We see as she murders guys around town to stay beautiful. This causes a rift between the friends. Needy then looks for a way to stop Jennifer before it is too late.
I have to say that I’ve been impressed with this film since the first time I saw it. I even showed this Jaime and part of the selling point is that she enjoys the movie Juno. I bring this up as the writer is Diablo Cody who wrote that one as well. What I found interesting is that the director here is Karyn Kusama as I like her other work in The Invitation.
To delve more into this one, what impresses me here is the take on high school that we’re getting. Fox looks a bit old to be in high school, but I can overlook that as I enjoy slasher films. Cody and Kusama do a great job at embodying that high school is rough. I like that they’re breaking the mold by having Needy and Jennifer being best friends. The problem though is that their friendship is toxic for Needy. Jennifer bosses her around and she’s able to. Heck, her nickname being Needy makes sense. Chip is there to build up Needy, but Jennifer does rule this place as well as her friend. An issue I have with parts of the dialogue. I’ve tamed on this, seeing how younger people talk now. If anything, this one might be a bit ahead of its time.
I think this has an interesting look to what happens to Jennifer as well. She’s sleeping with a local police trainee named Roman Duda (Chris Pratt). I’m assuming this started when he was still in high school since he never left the area. Jennifer is gorgeous, let me set up that. She is also small town though. There is no one there to rival her. Nikolai is digging what she is doing, but we see what happens when she goes off with him. There is a commentary on rape without going through with the act. That is unless you consider the symbolism of her being sacrificed with a knife, which is phallic shaped. Plus, she completely loses what innocence she has when she comes back from the ritual. Despite her not being a virgin, she still a teenage girl who is taken advantage of. I like this being explored, especially by two women behind this project.
Speaking of this ritual, I like the premise of how Jennifer becomes the succubus that she does. Low Shoulder is struggling as an indy band. Their plan is to sacrifice a virgin, make a pact with the devil to become famous and that is what they do. The problem is that Jennifer isn’t a virgin. This causes her to become a demon. I think this is genius as she is already hot. Succubae are described this way and I think this works. She can lure in men as victims including Colin Gray (Kyle Gallner), Jonas Kozelle (Josh Emerson) and even Chip to an extent. It is done though in a natural and subtle way. Her look is part of it, but she also flirts with him with little effort.
That’s all I want to delve into with the story so I’ll shift over to the acting. I think that Fox and Seyfried are great as our leads. Fox just has the look that is needed for this role and was born to play it. Her acting isn’t great, but I think part of my gripe is with the writing. Cody tends to write characters that are as unbelievable in their dialogue as it is too quirky. They do well with making Seyfried look mousey despite how attractive she is. Her portrayal as Needy is probably the best performance in the movie. Simmons is solid in support along with Brody, Pratt, Gallner and even J.K. Simmons and Amy Sedaris in their cameos. There isn’t a bad performance though and the acting works overall.
Next would be effects. I think for the most part they’re good. The blood has good color. We don’t get to see the attack scenes, which is fine. The aftermath that we get to see works well enough for me. There is CGI that we get. It isn’t great, but it isn’t enough to ruin the movie. I do want to give credit to the cinematography though. They cut away at the last second which is strategic. I can tell we have a woman director. It is tastefully done to show how attractive Jennifer is without necessarily needing to show too much skin. There are things done with the angles and shots for sure which I appreciate.
Then the last thing to go over would be the soundtrack. I actually dig the song by Low Shoulder. It has a sound that fit the era this movie was made. Aside from that, we get music like Fall Out Boy and other groups that also fit the time. It isn’t great, but I think the soundtrack works for what was needed.
In conclusion, I think this is a solid movie. I’m not going to say it is great by any stretch though. There is an interesting premise with this band wanting to make it big and messing up Jennifer’s life, causing her to become a demon. It showcases how high school can be tough and how a beautiful woman can get her way. The acting is solid and a majority of the effects as well as the soundtrack work. Some of the dialogue doesn’t necessarily feel natural, which is an issue for me. I can say though that feels more real today than when this was made. Overall, I’d say this is above average movie in my opinion. It can be rough if you weren’t in high school or college when it came out, but I think the creature idea still makes it work.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10