Jennifer's Body (Blu-ray / DVD)



Jennifer's Body on Blu-ray and DVDReviewed by MattFini

Starring Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody

Directed by Karyn Kusama

Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment


There’s a moment early on in Jennifer’s Body that is so striking, so creepy that it incorrectly sets the expectation of a successful marriage between horror and comedy. Jennifer Check (Megan Fox), last seen riding off in the back of a sleazy underground band’s van, reappears in her best friend’s kitchen, silent, battered and bloody while wearing a wide-mouthed, disturbing grin. The duality of this lingering image is intrinsic of the film itself: the ghoulish story of a possessed, man-eating teenager wrapped inside a soft, comedic shell of a movie that’s easily watchable, fairly enjoyable and disappointingly light on the horror.

Jennifer’s Body is writer Diablo Cody’s sophomore script, a follow-up to her Oscar-winning Juno screenplay and, most importantly, a better film. Yes, the script is riddled with dialogue so “clever” that it makes you want to slap a baby, but the thrust of the story is both smartly constructed and well executed. It ends up being a film less about a man-eating demon girl and more about lingering and long-dead friendships that should’ve ended long ago.

Needy Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried) is a mousy student whose friendship with high school sexpot Jennifer is the product of “sandbox love” – a relationship from childhood that continues despite the improbability of it all. Jennifer’s possession doesn’t so much change the dynamic of their seemingly one-sided friendship as it becomes a catalyst for Needy to finally put an end to it. Cody’s script captures every awkward nuance of their relationship (right down to Needy’s curious lesbian attraction to Jennifer) and goes to great lengths to make the titular character as believable as possible, despite being a demon. It’s really her insecurity that drives their friendship, using Needy as a crutch to boost her fragile ego.

Jennifer's Body on Blu-ray and DVDAnd while the core of the script works nicely, there are aspects that do not. For example, a minor subplot concerning a bottomless whirlpool at a nearby river goes nowhere, existing only to serve as an all-too convenient plot device at the film’s climax. There’s also the presence of the desperate rock band, Low Shoulder. Cody’s script outfits them with some genuinely funny lines of dialogue (“Do you know how hard it is to make it as an indie band these days … it's like if you don't get on Letterman or some retarded soundtrack, you're screwed, okay? Satan is our only hope.”), but their overall inclusion in the plot goes absolutely nowhere. They play a significant part in getting the story under way, but they’re looped back into the film’s climax for no real reason and without much impact.

It’s the whole third act that could’ve used another pass through Cody’s laptop, really. The horror element, so strong and promising in the aforementioned kitchen scene, wastes away before building any substantial tension - as if Cody and director Karyn Kusama were afraid to let the ‘importance’ of their story be deluded by the man-eating girl angle. As a result, Jennifer’s Body is never as much fun as it thinks it is. Most of its eggs are placed in the dialogue’s basket, making this of greater appeal to non-genre fans (if the online reviews are any indication) who don’t care to see the crazy, gory stuff. There is some gore as Jennifer devours a few poor schlubs, but beyond a blood spatter here and there it’s fairly tame stuff.

Director Kusama gives the film a strong visual style, albeit one that’s devoid of scares. So many bits would’ve benefited from a more atmospheric approach (Jennifer’s eerie, and nudity-less, skinny dip, her attack on a student in the woods and a scene set in a seemingly deserted neighborhood) but result in giving the viewer a missed opportunity feeling most of the time. Given the femininity of the story, it’s understandable why the producers felt a female director might best benefit the material (even though I don’t necessarily agree), but how about one more versed in the horror genre? With a stronger helmsman, Jennifer’s Body could’ve had the much needed horror vibe to offset the weaknesses of Cody’s story. The Blu-ray extras even reveal that some creature work, courtesy of KNB, was created but never utilized. Bummer.

Jennifer's Body on Blu-ray and DVDBut it’s not a total loss. Megan Fox steps effortlessly into the role of the sexy demon cheerleader, and her performance is far better than expected. Some of the dialogue can be a real chore, although she surprisingly demonstrates some genuinely funny comedic timing along the way. To be fair, the part doesn’t necessarily ask a lot of Fox, so it’s perhaps not the best place to judge her acting abilities. It’s really Amanda Seyfried’s show, though, and she’s a blast to watch. Perfectly capturing every awkward nuance of Needy’s personality, Seyfried is both an appealing heroine and a believable teenager – with her conflicted nature driving much of the narrative. The supporting cast, consisting of Johnny Simmons, J.K. Simmons and Adam Brody, all acquaint themselves with the material, making the performances in Jennifer’s Body its best attribute.

Chomping its way onto Blu-ray and DVD, Jennifer’s Body is truly a sight to behold in glorious 1080p high definition. The transfer never betrays its filmic roots, offering a highly detailed image with eye-popping detail and very strong color. Skin tones look fantastic, and the contrast is startlingly high all around. 20th Century Fox has really gone out of its way to preserve the visual palette here, and it looks just about perfect. Then there’s the matter of your home theater when it comes to the DTS HD 5.1 surround track. It’s loud, but never over-aggressive. Rear channels are rife with background noise, engulfing you in the film’s ambiance. Dialogue is always pitch-perfect and sparklingly clear – separated nicely with the frequent musical cues. On a technical level, this Blu-ray is aces all around.

I’ll be honest, it was the commentary track on the film’s theatrical cut, with Cody and Kusama, that gave me a slightly deeper appreciation for the film. It's a surprisingly amusing discussion that’s lively and a little brisk – although the story’s themes are explored and differences between the film’s two versions are discussed. Then, Kusama goes solo for a scene-specific commentary on the extended version (running five minutes longer than the theatrical cut). Both versions of the movie are included on this Blu-ray (a practice ALL studios need to employ) – making this the definitive release for all the film’s fans.

A small collection of extended scenes is included here in high definition, along with a gag reel/music video/behind-the-scenes thingy, a fourteen-minute making-of wherein KNB man Greg Nicotero showcases the unused gore effects and a twelve-minute compilation of video diaries from Fox, Seyfried, Johnny Simmons and Diablo Cody. There are some minor additions like a Megan Fox PSA and a baffling featurette titled, wait for it, Megan Fox is HOT, which just features some of her hottest scenes strung together in a 50-second clip show. There’s also a thirty-minute feature of Diablo Cody having an enjoyable discussion with a group of film students. Cody comes off both smart and level-headed here as she discusses the pressures of following up an Oscar-winning script.

Jennifer’s Body isn’t the train wreck many have claimed, but let’s not be so quick to grant it instant cult status, either. It’s a lively and likable enough movie that never realizes its full potential. Those of you who’ve seen Ginger Snaps won’t even find it that original, but the good cast (and a partially good script) makes up for some of its shortcomings. I can’t fully recommend it, but I will say I’m contemplating another viewing this weekend, which means there’s something to it. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

Blu-ray Special Features

  • Two versions of the film
  • Audio Commentary with Director Karyn Kusama and Writer Diablo Cody
  • Audio Commentary with Director Karyn Kusama
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Jennifer’s Body: The Dead Pool featurette
  • Gag Reel
  • Video Diaries
  • Megan Fox Is HOT video
  • Megan Fox “Peer Pressure” PSA video
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents ‘Life After Film School’ with writer Diablo Cody
  • Digital copy

    DVD Special Features

  • Two versions of the film
  • Audio Commentary with Director Karyn Kusama and Writer Diablo Cody
  • Audio Commentary with Director Karyn Kusama

    Film:

    3 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Discuss Jennifer's Body in our Dread Central forums!




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    I loved it and I'm sure it'll do extremely well on home video. Well enough, hopefully, that Kusama can get her next body horror film off the ground. There's not nearly enough female directors working in the industry but between this and Kathryn Bigelow's THE HURT LOCKER 2009 saw two of them knocking films out of the park and that gives me some hope.


    Submitted by Caterpillar on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:29pm.
    moderator I have to say that seeing
    Debi Moore's picture

    I have to say that seeing this drek compared to The Hurt Locker is pretty painful. As a female, I was really rooting for Jen's Body with its writer, director, and main stars all sharing my gender, but for me it was a failure on all parts. It had not one redeeming quality as far as I was concerned.


    Submitted by Debi Moore on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:36pm.
    Terminal's picture

    The Hurt Locker rocked my socks off.


    Submitted by Terminal on Tue, 01/12/2010 - 6:24am.
    Rorschach's picture

    Count me in the camp that thought Ginger Snaps did this type of stuff far, far better. Maybe it's my utter dislike of the "LOVE Megan Fox! LOVE HER! LOOOOVE HERRRR!" studio machine that's behind that synthetic, untalented, and startlingly stupid bitch, but I just couldn't STAND this movie.


    Submitted by Rorschach on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 6:03am.
    Terminal's picture

    I'm with you. I simply don't get why there's such a rabid following for Megan Fox. She's good looking but not completely unique and she just has zero personality. In all the interviews I've seen from her she just looks bored. It's also a shame when people like her are getting all the sex symbol branding when people like Diora Baird are walking around fairly under appreciated.


    Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 6:17am.
    Rorschach's picture

    Agreed again. Give me Baird (or heck, even Amanda Seyfried!) over Fox's "femme-bot" looks any old day of the week.

    I mean, was it me, or was Megan Fox even MORE "Species" like than the chick that turned out to be a Decepticon in Transformers 2? I honestly thought the "big reveal" at the end was going to be that Fox was the Autobot version of that evil bitch.

    Whatever it is, she just doesn't seem natural or human to me.


    Submitted by Rorschach on Tue, 01/12/2010 - 2:14am.
    Terminal's picture

    Oh man, Amanda Seyfried is gorgeous. Even all frumpy and with glasses I was smitten with her. Seyfried is unique. Her face is so striking. Fox is... well Fox looks good but doesn't stand out or anything.

    That would have been a great plot twist. Sadly it's too intelligent for the likes of Bay and his followers.


    Submitted by Terminal on Tue, 01/12/2010 - 6:26am.
    Terminal's picture

    Fair enough. I think Ginger Snaps just had the whole formula down cold while Jennifer's Body just tried too damn hard.


    Submitted by Terminal on Thu, 01/07/2010 - 11:45pm.
    Matt Serafini's picture

    To be fair, I haven't seen Ginger Snaps since it was new.

    I really should look at it again in the near future.


    Submitted by Matt Serafini on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:18am.
    moderator You my friend need to go
    Steve Barton's picture

    You my friend need to go back and revisit Ginger Snaps. It's was better than this in every way shape and form.


    Submitted by Steve Barton on Sat, 01/09/2010 - 5:41pm.
    nonserviam03's picture

    This review pretty much sums up my feelings towards the movie. It wasn't all that terrible, and I actually think that Megan Fox's wooden acting works quite well once she's possessed by the demon. Helps sell the idea, lol.

    Not a great movie, but watchable, and has a few shining moments.


    Submitted by nonserviam03 on Thu, 01/07/2010 - 10:41pm.
    Terminal's picture

    Man, I wish I saw what you saw. I was shocked I managed to sit through the whole thing without hunting Cody down and making her eat the damn script.

    This movie was such a rip off of Ginger Snaps and tried to be so clever and witty that it was just nauseating. Fox just plain stinks here, and the only real highlight is Seyfried who comes out on top in such a piece of shit movie.


    Submitted by Terminal on Thu, 01/07/2010 - 10:15pm.
    Gareth Jones's picture

    I'm with you. Even within the first five minutes, with Seyfried's ridiculously overblown voiceover and super-kicking of the orderly I thought, "Who is this trying to engage? Certainly not me..."

    An absolute disgrace is what this film is, though I'll admit the scene at the swimming pool toward the end is visually impressive. I wasn't at all impressed with Juno either - Cody seems to see herself as some kind of hip pioneer. In reality, it feels like she's just trying to create a "scene", and christ I hate scenesters.


    Submitted by Gareth Jones on Thu, 01/07/2010 - 10:57pm.
    Terminal's picture

    Yeah I mean I enjoyed Juno, to be honest, and I was kind of rooting for Cody, but after this hipper than thou piece of crap I pretty much have lost all faith in the woman.

    And it's sad that Cody tries her damndest to turn this in to a clever witty horror film when Ginger Snaps did it first and better. Original my ass, Cody cribbed from Ginger Snaps. Period.


    Submitted by Terminal on Thu, 01/07/2010 - 11:01pm.
    Matt Serafini's picture

    I agree with you ... although, truth be told, I think I liked this more than Ginger Snaps.


    Submitted by Matt Serafini on Thu, 01/07/2010 - 11:11pm.

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