Reviews

Jennifer's Body

Tricia Olszewski

Jennifer's Body offers gore, but not a high body count, and cheap scares are rare.


Jennifer’s Body

Director: Karyn Kusama
Cast: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, J.K. Simmons, Adam Brody, Amy Sedaris
Rated: R
Studio: Fox
Year: 2009
US date: 2009-09-18 (General release)
UK date: 2009-11-06 (General release)
Website
Trailer

Emo is literally evil in Jennifer's Body. Screenwriter Diablo Cody's follow-up to her Oscar-winning Juno features a teenage groupie impregnated by demons. Its dorks aren't virginal. Its slut doesn't die (well, maybe technically.) And Megan Fox proves capable of carrying a movie on her supernaturally good-looking shoulders.

In fact, if an actress other than Fox had been cast as the titular succubus, Jennifer's Body might be a bit less compelling. Her much-ballyhooed beauty makes it seem entirely plausible that animalistic man-eating makes her “really pretty and glowy,” according to her best nerdly friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried). When Fox is on screen, you can't take your eyes off her. Even when the beast within Jennifer is hungry and she turns "ugly... well, ugly for her," Fox has got the stunning face and teeny waist that keep on giving.

At the beginning of the film, Jennifer is just another eye-rolling cool girl at a high school in backwoods Devil's Kettle, Minnesota. Though she's a cheerleader at the top of the student pecking order, she hangs out with Needy (BFFs since they were little kids, they wear matching lockets). While Needy has a steady beau, Chip (Johnny Simmons), Jennifer's on the prowl, cajoling Needy to go along to see a crappy indie band named Low Shoulder because singer Nikolai (Adam Brody) is “extra salty.” (Remember, this is Cody's acrobatically slanged universe.)

The group doesn't even make it through the first song when a curtain catches fire and the place burns down -- a not-too-subtle and somewhat distasteful reference to the deadly 2003 fire at a Rhode Island club. The girls escape, and Jennifer isn't too rattled to hop in the band's tinted-window van. The next time Needy sees her, Jennifer is bloodied and strangely vacant-looking. After tearing into a chicken she finds in the fridge, she lets out an inhuman roar and a spew of inky vomit.

The next day in school, Jennifer's fine. “You have a tendency to overreact,” she tells her freaked-out friend. When Needy shows her blackened fingernails as proof that the projectile puking actually happened, Jennifer suggests a manicure: “You should find a Chinese chick to buff your situation.”

Jennifer's Body may tamp the anti-Cody movement's vitriol. Its invented hipsterisms are significantly toned down compared to Juno (though as in that film, many of the characters sound the same). More important, though, horror fans will likely be bored. There's gore, but not a high body count, and cheap scares are rare. Though director Karyn Kusama's stylistic flair complements the lower-key frights, such that the film is interesting to look at even when it dips into predictable OMG! plotting. Jennifer's heightened senses, for example, are demonstrated by the camera zooming in a beeline from a distance to right up close to her first victim, and a gut-tearing murder is shown in silhouette. Plus, it's cool when Jennifer, Prom Queen gives way to flashes of Jennifer, Satan's Pawn, her eyes turning catlike or her body suddenly levitating or wracked by those ungodly roars.

Cody's comedy may not match Scream's deftness, but the tonal shifts rarely seem out of place. (When Chip asks if Needy noticed the make and model of the band's van, she answers, “I don't know, an '89 Rapist?”) The state of “indie” rock gets its deserved share of kicks -- Low Shoulder's reasoning for dabbling in the Satanic is hilarious. But then, the film's resolution is too ridiculous and too easy. Even diehard Cody fans will have to admit that it finale jumps the corpse.

5

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image