Review: Jennifer's Body (TIFF)
PLOT: High school sexpot Jennifer (Megan Fox), is turned into a ravenous, bloodthirsty monster after an encounter with a devil worshiping indie rock band (fronted by THE O.C's Adam Brody). Her best friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried) is the only person that suspects the truth, but no one, including her good-natured boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), believes her, forcing Needy to take matters into her own hands.
REVIEW: To be perfectly honest, and despite the hype I did not expect much from JENNIFER'S BODY. By the time I finally saw it, the film had screened several times at TIFF, and the buzz from the critics was not good. Nevertheless, the paying audience I saw it with seemed to have a blast with this horror comedy, that aspires to be a horror comedy in the vein of such eighties classics as FRIGHT NIGHT, and THE LOST BOYS. Alas, despite it's charm, JENNIFER'S BODY is not quite up to par with those films.
As far as I'm concerned, the first half hour of this film is golden. It's starts off with Needy incarcerated at a mental institution, and from there she flashes back to the events of the film and the early scenes of Needy and Jennifer at their school, and hooking up with Brody's evil indie rock band are hilarious. I must admit to having been a pretty hardcore OC fan during it's first two seasons, and Brody was always great, so it's nice to see him finally get a decent role in a big film. His indie rock/ ironic Satan devotee shtick is pretty clever, and I would have gladly paid to see a whole film about the band that could play out as a demonic THIS IS SPINAL TAP (which actually does kinda happen during the closing credits- which for my money is the highlight of the film). I still think that if they make a FLASH movie, he would be a solid choice for the lead.
However once Brody disappears and the horror starts, I started to lose interest in the film. I think the big problem is that I simply can't buy Megan Fox as a credible villain, no matter what kind of demonic powers she possesses. I know she's the IT girl, but I'm not sold on her as an actress. Sure- she's smoking hot, but can she act? The evidence here does not exactly make a good case for her, as she does nothing but strut around looking hot, while occasionally vomiting up some fake blood. Her line readings are also fairly lame, which is a shame as Diablo Cody's stylized dialogue is pretty clever.
Faring much better is her co-star, Amanda Seyfried, who actually does have some solid acting chops (and it must be said, she has a far stronger role). Seyfried makes a very likable heroine, and it's a shame everyone seems to be focusing on Fox, as the film would not be nearly as effective without Seyfried pulling all the weight acting wise. As her love interest, Johnny Simmons is fine, although he seemed a little too boyish, and wimpy to be playing a guy Seyfried and Fox end up fighting over. As the film is produced by Diablo Cody's JUNO director, Jason Reitman, his regular go-to guy, J.K Simmons turns up as a bewigged, hook-handed teacher- and just about walks away with the film, and I nearly doubled over in laughter during his introduction.
Horror-wise, to be fair to both Cody, and director Karyn Kusama, things do perk up towards the end, as the film turns into more of a straight horror flick than a horror-comedy. I think the film worked whenever it focused on the horror, or the comedy- but failed when it tried to mingle the two. Still, I more or less had a good time while watching it, and the audience seemed to dig the hell out of it- so I imagine it'll have a fair share of fans once it goes into general release on September 18th. It's not a great film- but it's still worth checking out, and works as a solid time at the movies.