Jennifer’s Body is the second film by Academy Award-winning writer Diablo Cody. This was the only piece of information that drove me to the theater to see this. Cody, who herself made a cameo appearance in the film for just a few frames, is a unique figure in today’s cinema, and I expect the greatest of things from her after 2007’s breakout indie hit Juno. Jennifer’s Body is therefore completely unsurprisingly driven by her specific, witty kind of writing, full of unusual slang and pop-culture references.
Jennifer’s Body follows the relationship of two best friends – the High School alpha female Jennifer, portrayed by Megan Fox, and her plane friend Anita, commonly referred to as “Needy.” Following a concert at a local bar that ends in a fiery blaze, Jennifer is abducted by the band who played the set for the purposes of being used in a sacrifice to Satan in order to garner fame and fortune for the band. Although the band seems to have gotten their wish, the ritual didn’t go completely as planned, as a demon nestles itself in Jennifer, turning her into a boy-eating monster. When she sets her sights on Needy’s boyfriend, their relationship turns sour.
Megan Fox’s performance in the movie is far from dazzling. She does her job in the film, but it really is a shame that she receives top-billing. Her acting is nothing above average. Then again, her character isn’t exactly the most likable – Hannibal Lecter is at least charming and intelligent. The true star of the film ought to be Amanda Seyfried, who plays her role of the mousy girl believably enough that her transformation towards the end of the film is genuinely surprising, but not unrealistic.
The film succeeds, in my opinion so far as it is entertaining and a commentary. Some of the laughs certainly deliver, as does the occasional horror bit. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be very legitimately scared considering the set-up of the entire movie is a humorous one. Some of the writing really is witty – I thought the idea that an indy band these days has to make a deal with devil is brilliant on many levels. As for the message, it’s fairly simple. “Hell is a teenage girl” is the opening line, and the entire rest of the film backs it up beautifully. The boys she kills aren’t really people, and in a true slasher fashion all commit the crime of being lustful. The true cruelty Jennifer executes is to her friend, whom she mistreats, it seems, at every turn. This is the message, it seems, Diablo Cody wants to send to perhaps her own adolescent self. The irony, then, is that the “high school evil” in the film far outshines the actual evil perpetrated on camera.
The slang used in the film by Diablo Cody is very distinctive, and anyone who has seen Juno will recognize it immediately. Unfortunately, while it works great for a quirky teenage indy comedy character, it is simply difficult to take seriously demons that use the phrase “move on dot org” as an imperative. Obviously, the film makes no attempt to be a straight horror picture, but the slang simply does not fit what is happening on the screen, and I fail to see how the actually funny parts would be more poorly served with language real people use in real-time speech.
These commentary aspects are sadly fleeting. The film, unfortunately, seems to largely serve to tantalize the demographic diametrically opposed to the target audience. The same boys that are slaughtered in the film will be the ones to go see it.