Jennifer's Body - Blu-ray Review

'it requires no suspension of disbelief to imagine that [Jennifer's] victim is enticed by her voluptuousness in to the death throes of a secluded wood but a brain of superhuman powers to figure out what he is doing there in the first place'

There's a lot of good intentions in Jennifer's Body. It's made by people who seemingly understand their horror and their teenagers. It's centered around an inventive, subliminally dark idea, penned by one of Hollywood's most fashionable scriptwriters. It has one of Hollywood's current rising stars in its title role with an underground star-in-the-making backing her up and it's produced by Jason Reitman of current Up In The Air acclaim. What a shame then that, as my old Mum used to say, good intentions eventually count for nothing.

The good idea at Jennifer's Body's heart (ha, see what I did there? Ahem...) is that Jennifer (Megan Fox) is actually a blood-sucking demon who needs to eat people to stay young, healthy and attractive. When she doesn't eat people she's cranky, lank-haired and greasy-skinned, facts which begin to make 'BFF' Needy (Amanda Seyfried) suspicious.

Of course, Needy should have drawn conclusions about the current state of Jennifer's immortal soul a long time before she notices she's stopped using hair straighteners seeing as within the opening third of the film, Jennifer is in her kitchen covered in blood, scaring the bejesus out of her and throwing up black goo. Want more plot holes and annoying 'oh come on' moments? No problem, there's plenty of them to see here which is JB's core problem. Yes sure its horror isn't all that horrific and no its comedy is rarely, if ever, laugh out loud funny but its failings are more fundamental than that: significant bits of it need really stratospheric levels of disbelief suspension to operate effectively.

Take Jennifer's first on-screen kill. It requires no suspension of disbelief to imagine that her victim is enticed by her voluptuousness in to the death throes of a secluded wood but a brain of superhuman powers to figure out what he is doing there in the first place. Director Karyn Kusama seems to think it's perfectly fine and explainable to have some dude standing stock still in the middle of a field on his own, apparently waiting to be gobbled up by a hungry demon in fatal female form. Well I've got news for you: it's not. It stinks of being a) a missed opportunity and b) downright lazy. Occasions like this in all films are forgivable but in Jennifer's Body things like this happen time and time again. Needy for example realises two drastically important things at key moments during the film. How does she realise those things you ask? Well I'm not sure I can answer that because Kusama never really bothers to explain either instance of Needy's miracle-like detective powers satisfactorily, or at least past the point of politely shrugging and saying, 'she just realises them'.

Thankfully it's not a total waste as not quite all of Jennifer's Body succumbs to the above 'paint by numbers and worry about the colours later' model of film making. The conclusion for example, nicely links back to a beginning I didn't expect to be there and the whole thing is satisfyingly wrapped up, without it ever deteriorating into a sugar-coated, 'happily-ever-after' post-horror, washout. Not-so-secret nods to her understanding of teenagers are still present, Juno-like, in Diablo Cody's script and whether you find them annoyingly self-referential or spot-on accurate you can't deny that they still apply something fresh and meaningful to teen-based genre flicks. It's hard too to fault the performances. Fox is fine as the uber-perfect Jennifer and while Seyfried is slightly type-cast as the kooky best friend she does do a good job. The OC's Adam Brody is really nothing more than a cameo as the leader of the indie group that abduct Jennifer but he's never anything other than believable and Johnny Simmons as Needy's boyfriend Chip does a nice line in slacker-charm.

They were never going to win any Oscars this March but it is a shame that in Kusama's hands these reliable turns from young Hollywood talent are made un-memorable by some wayward direction and messy execution of a solid if uninspired Cody offering. Despite this, Jennifer's Body shouldn't quite be labelled as 'nothing to see here' but it certainly does its best to appeal only to B-movie genre fans and teenage boys with the hots for Fox, rather than branching out into the mainstream, which a better film featuring this kind of pedigree almost certainly would have done.

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'Was I just bashing Cody’s hipster dialogue that I still enjoy in her first movie, Juno? I guess I was. The truth is that I feel it works better in comedy than this horror film and Jennifer’s Body is a lame comedy and a worse horror movie' - gman Reviews (Andrew Robinson), 1.5/10

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