Directed by Karyn Kusama
Starring Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons
Here’s a horror film written by one of the hottest writers in the business, Diablo Cody (Juno) and starring the girl of the moment, Megan Fox (Transformers 1 &2) that bombed at the box office. So why did this happen? When I saw the early trailers for the film it seemed like a no brainer. I actually didn’t get to see it in the theater myself so I was happy to get to see it in HD at home.
Jennifer is that girl in high school that every teen boy wants to date and every girl wants to be friends with. The thing that doesn’t make sense is Jennifer’s best friend, nerdy girl named Needy. It turns out that these girls have been friends since before cool and nerdy mattered. These two friends live in a small town with not much to do but if there’s trouble to be found Jennifer finds it and she drags Needy along for the ride. Everything is as stereotypical as it gets until one night Jennifer and Needy sneak out to see a band play at a local bar. Jennifer hopes to hook up with the singer of the band and she does leaving Needy in the lurch. What neither of the girls could have expected is that they’d be fighting about whether Jennifer should jump in the van with the band while the bar they were in goes up in flames.
Late that night Jennifer visits Needy at home and she’s a changed girl, almost feral like and eating raw meant. Soon murders begin happening in the small town to high school boys and for a while only Needy know who is really responsible.
Jennifer’s Body is a mostly paint by numbers horror film with an 80’s flair. It’s not a particularly great film but it’s not bad either. If you’re a fan of 80’s horror films this one has a lot to offer. There’s gore, there’s a monster angle, and there’s even some satanic sacrifice stuff happening here. The biggest failure of the film is Diablo Cody’s need to create her own style of pop culture mostly through her sometimes clever but mostly painful dialogue. For every clever little bit of dialogue there are tons of lines that just fall completely flat. The worst offender comes from a new use of the word Jell-O. When that line hit the screen I wanted to put a bullet through my TV screen.
This film is written by a woman and directed by a woman so there’s no denying that a female perspective would come through in a type of film and a genre of film that is typically favored by a male audience. There is one scene that could be considered exploitative, which is an element of this kind of film but outside of that the film has an undercurrent that reminded me of something like Ginger Snaps. Along with the in your face horror of the kills and gore the film also attempts to portray a more subtle type of horror: that of the anxiety of being a teen girl. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t but the fact that it’s in there at all adds more depth to what could have been a simple slasher flick. So, I have to say even with the faults the film is still an enjoyable watch. There’s one particular fight scene that’s pretty great and really well shot. Fans of the genre should try to forget about the awfulness that is Juno and give this film a look.
This 1.85:1 presentation is really fantastic. Black levels are deep and near flawless and the vibrant colors are well represented and free of blooming or other common issues with lower budget releases. Finally detail level is consistently high throughout the film in both darker and brighter scenes. This is a near perfect presentation. The only issue with the transfer is that there’s a very very thin layer of film grain running throughout the film. The slight grain adds some depth to the presentation though and reminds us that yes the film was shot on “film”.
The DTS Master Audio presentation is also really well done. The mix is really aggressive and “rock n’ roll”. When an aspect of the soundstage is used it’s really used. During musical numbers with the band the subwoofer kicks in loud and heavy. During the destruction of the bar every speaker gets something to do. The quieter moments do get some attention too but the audio is about as subtle as the film itself so don’t expect as much during the serious dialogue scenes. The score, sound fx, and dialogue are mixed clean and loud with no muffling or distortion to speak of. There’s nothing innovative about the audio presentation but it is well done.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The two disc set comes in a standard slim blu-ray amaray case. The cover art honestly is a little ho-hum. A little more time spent doing something fun with it would have been appreciated.
The first noticeable bonus feature is the inclusion of an unrated director’s cut along with the theatrical version. Before you get your hopes up it appears that the cuts made for the theatrical version were simply made for time because the stuff put back into the film is mostly just more character stuff and some extended scenes. Of the two the story is better represented in the uncut version.
There’s an audio commentary on the theatrical version by the director and screenwriter. The commentary is unfortunately not as informative as it should have been. In fact there are long gaps where the two don’t say anything at all and when they do talk they focus on things in the film that they like rather than offering up much behind the scenes stuff. Sometimes the two ladies simply laugh as if there’s some inside joke they don’t share. When they do get into discussions they tend to discuss a lot about gender roles in horror films. This gets very mundane very quickly and as interesting as I thought this element was in the film it gets long in the tooth in this commentary.
The director does commentary over a few brief scenes in the director’s cut and these clips are more focused but not much deeper.
There’s 14 minutes of deleted scenes and they are a mixed bag of should have been in the film and fine to be cut. Most of it is just more development of the Needy character. There’s one additional scene that I was shocked that it was cut because it features some gratuitous nudity (again don’t get excited the nudity isn’t from either of the two stars).
The gag reel isn’t a gag reel at all. Instead it’s a musical montage featuring this horrible song from the film. This was a big letdown.
The Dead Pool is a 14 minute featurette that focuses on the shooting of the final battle in the film. There’s lots of good behind the scenes stuff here from the crew and some tidbits from the actors as they were waiting to shoot. This is sort of a making of featurette in that it does feature some discussion of the making of the film from thematic elements to special fx but I oddly found myself for a more traditional making of documentary showing behind the scenes shooting of other scenes along with this one.
The video diaries should have been cool but there’s a bit too much vapid brainlessness from a couple of the stars making them actually irritating. Megan Fox isn’t exactly a bright bulb. I’ll just leave it at that. The other disappointment is that all of the diaries were shot during the filming of the same scene as the Dead Pool featurette so we don’t even get a look at different set pieces or behind the scenes work.
Life After Film School is the most interesting of the extras. This half hour Fox Movie Channel special features writer Diablo Cody being interviewed about her work from the beginning all the way up to Jennifer’s Body. While I don’t find myself becoming more of a fan of Cody I did enjoy learning about her career.
Megan Fox is hot is really a dumb “bonus feature”. Basically it’s a montage of scenes of Fox in various scenes from the film set to music. Garbage, pure and simple. The Peer Pressure PSA is a brief promo for the film featuring Fox. It should be here for the completists.
The bonus features aren’t that great. There are some highlights but overall they’re disappointing.
Jennifer’s Body is an 80’s style horror film that feels a little different due to the female perspective. It’s a simple Saturday night horror film and faults aside it’s an entertaining watch. I think the film would have done better in theaters had the marketing team focused on selling it to girls rather than on Megan Fox because the male Fox lovers don’t get what they want and the film is more female friendly than the ads would lead you to believe.
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10