Jennifer’s Body features the equally lusted after and loathed Megan Fox as the title character, your typical mean girl of loose morals, taking a condescending tone towards friends and enemies equally. It’s a role perfect for Megan Fox, which is just sad and also not very impressive. It might also explain the lack of box office. Why pay to see Megan Fox be an asshole; just watch any of her interviews or read an article about her. What would have been more impressive? Megan Fox playing against type as a kind, good hearted person. You know, acting. At the very least it would have been interesting. Not to say that Jennifer’s Body is a woeful piece of shit. Nah. It is pretty mediocre though. The problem is that no one involved is working hard enough to transcend the genre’s they are inhabiting. A biting high school satire would have been neat. A twist on the horror genre? I love those! Whoops. The script is the main culprit with some terrible dialogue and a framing device that only works to drain the film of tension.
The plot revolves around Jennifer and her friend Needy(I know!) played by Amanda Seyfried. Needy is just that, a wallflower who hangs around Jennifer because Jennifer is cool and hot and all that. I was going to mention that Jennifer talks like a fucking idiot but so many of the characters do. Needy’s boyfriend Chip(I KNOW!) is a more levelheaded character who points out that Jennifer is an idiot and talks like an illiterate fool, but as my pal Justin has mentioned, when you have your characters pointing out how terrible your movie is inside your movie, your movie is still terrible. Am I supposed to take Chip’s observations as Diablo Cody’s attempts to play down her shitty writing? You know how you deal with bad writing? Write better. I’m sure someone important said that, and I apologize for not properly citing them. Where was I? Oh yeah, the plot of Jennifer’s Body. Jennifer and Needy head to the only bar in their small town of Devil’s Kettle to see the band Low Shoulder. As luck would have it, the venue explodes in flames due to faulty wiring and most of the viewing audience is engulfed in flames. Needy and Jennifer escape as well as the members of Low Shoulder. Nikolai Wolf, Low Shoulder’s frontman(charmingly portrayed by Adam Brody) invites Jennifer into his band’s van. Needy warns against this, Jennifer doesn’t listen and goes anyway. Except then she looks afraid right as the van doors close. Jennifer suddenly reappears at Needy’s home later in the evening, covered in blood and vomiting black slime, then vanishing just as quickly. The next day at school, Jennifer is in class looking fine and dandy and Needy is understandably shocked and surprised. Come to find out, Jennifer is now a flesh eating monster, thanks to a botched virgin sacrifice to Satan, performed on Jen by Low Shoulder. The sacrifice didn’t quite work, on account of Jennifer not being a virgin.
That’s isn’t a terrible set up for a horror flick, but the filmmakers don’t have much interest in making a scary film. All of Jennifer’s kills are rather blah, though the visual of Megan Fox slurping blood out of man’s open chest cavity has a slight “anything for a check” vibe. Worse, the too-clever-for-it’s-own-good script keeps getting in the way of any dramatic moments, be it between Needy and Chip, Chip and his mother, or between Needy and Jennifer during the climactic scenes. Here are two characters fighting for their lives and trading quips like dueling comedians. These are both excellent examples of how to make your conflict appear meaningless and giving your audience an excuse to leave early. But y’know, I might not have minded the one liners if they weren’t so clunky and obtrusive. Diablo Cody certainly writes in a stylized fashion, but unlike various other writers in film and television, her characters tend to converse in a made up code of English where words tend to mutate into un-meaning. For example, using “salty” as a descriptive for someone who is attractive doesn’t make sense, as “salty” is never used in a positive sense. If I refer to something as “salty”, I’ve had a negative, or at least less than positive response to it. Plus, “salty” is a description that is associated with a taste or an attitude, and having a “salty” demeanor is not a compliment. Using “salty” as a description for a attractive physical appearance makes even less sense. Every time Jennifer used her “salty” descriptor I wished for Regina George to bust onto the screen and tell Jen that “salty” was never going to catch on and to shut up about it already. Of course, Jennifer would go full monster and eat Regina, “because (she) goes both ways.” Hardy har. If Cody is attempting to tell us that Jennifer is using “salty” incorrectly because Jennifer is stupid, she has failed because everyone in this movie is stupid. It is possible to inject fear and dread into a horror film while maintaining a comedic edge AND still getting an audience to care about the characters. Hell, they managed to do it twice.
Jennifer’s Body is a horror movie without any scares and a teen comedy without many jokes. From what I read on the day of the film’s release, Jennifer’s Body is an important film to many of the principals involved. It is Diablo Cody’s first film script since winning her Oscar for Juno, and it is Megan Fox’s first headlining role. After the film tanked, I read that it wasn’t actually that important, and that neither party will feel any particular sting. So good for them. Diablo Cody’s next project is a film based off the Sweet Valley High series of books. I’m sure it will be packed with characters explaining why they find one another “sour patch” and turning down prom invitations with a sharp “American I’d rather not”.