JennifersBodyThis movie sucks, pure and simple. It’s poorly constructed, self-satisfied and dull, being an uninspired run-through of bad-girl movie clichés established by the likes of CARRIE, HEATHERS and last year’s TEETH, all of which far outpace this limp offering.

JENNIFER’S BODY (2009) marks yet another bomb for director Karyn Kusama, following 2000’s GIRL FIGHT (a smash at Sundance but a commercial failure) and AEON FLUX (2005). As with the latter film (a visually impressive but otherwise inert sci fi actioner), the problem with JENNIFER’S BODY is with its half-baked script. That script was penned by Diablo Cody, of JUNO fame.

Full Disclosure: I’m not a fan of JUNO and so am not the intended audience for JENNIFER’S BODY. But then again, based on the film’s less-than euphoric reception by critics and audiences, I’ve no idea who that intended audience might be. The fact that Cody executive produced this new film (JUNO’S director Jason Reitman also lent his name to it) is the only conceivable reason her awful script was even greenlit. Had it been written by anyone else I believe it would have gotten the cold shoulder it deserves.

Teenage Jennifer is the gorgeous but hopelessly bitchy best friend of a dorky girl nicknamed, appropriately enough, Needy. The two attend a concert in a tiny bar that catches fire and burns down, killing several of Needy and Jennifer’s classmates. N&J, however, escape the conflagration–and act remarkably blasé about it. Jennifer promptly hops in a van with the band members and is whisked away.

It seems the band has turned to Satan worship in a desperate bid for success, and are looking to sacrifice a virgin. What they don’t realize is that their intended sacrifice is far from virginal; they kill Jennifer and intone the requisite incantations, and she comes back as a demon.

In this new guise Jennifer is even bitchier than before (and apparently a lesbian to boot). The demon-Jennifer dismembers a guy in the woods and then sets her sights on Needy’s new BF. Needy decides this is too much, and finally decides to fight back. But it’s strictly a case of too little, too late…for Needy and the viewer!

Karyn Kusama isn’t a bad director, but she’s saddled with a script that’s at best hopelessly underdeveloped. It’s formless and choppy, feeling like several different movies, and falls apart entirely in the misconceived conclusion, which is so protracted and plain clumsy that a pivotal scene unfolds over the end credits. That’s not even taking into account the obnoxious dialogue, which (as in JUNO) is concerned with hip cleverness above all else. All the characters are impossibly self-aware, and can always be counted on to deliver lengthy pop culture-inflected dissertations at any occasion.

It seems this film was aimed primarily at a female audience. Yet TRANSFORMERS’ Megan Fox, an actress popular with the MAXIM crowd who women by and large don’t like, was cast in the title role. The presence of Ms. Fox, the copious gore and a wholly gratuitous lesbian smooch were evidently included to attract the guys, yet the film overall is far too bland to appeal to most male horror fans. What results is a “Feathered Fish,” a popular Hollywood term referring to wishy-washy films like this one. A feathered fish, you see, can neither swim nor fly. Beyond that JENNIFER’S BODY was simply a bad idea all around.

Vital Statistics

JENNIFER’S BODY
Fox Atomic

Director: Karyn Kusama
Producers: Daniel Dubiecki, Mason Novick, Jason Reitman
Screenplay: Diablo Cody
Cinematography: M. David Mullen
Editing: Plummy Tucker
Cast: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, Sal Cortez, Ryan Levine, Juan Riedinger, Colin Askey, Chris Pratt, Juno Ruddell, Kyle Gallner, Josh Emerson