Jennifer’s Body

 

Directed by Karyn Kusama. Starring Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, JK Simmons 15 cert, gen release, 102 min

OH DEAR, oh dear. The worst thing about the near-complete failure of screenwriter Diablo Cody’s follow- up to the sublime Junois that it gives her detractors – small in number, but vociferous – ammunition for a counter- insurgency. See? All she does is knock together smart-Alec aphorisms into a rude, disorganised stream. We told you she was a fraud.

Well, no. Junohad a beautiful, sleek shape and Jennifer’s Bodycertainly aims to do more than raise repeated snarky sniggers. Tipping its hat to Carrie, the film, directed without distinction by Girlfight’s Karyn Kusama, seeks to bring the language of horror to the traditional high school flick.

“Jennifer’s evil,” Amanda Seyfried remarks in one of the film’s better exchanges. “I mean she’s actually evil. Not high-school evil.” Unfortunately, the picture’s arguments have all been made before, the performances are indifferent, and the film-makers have no feel (really, no feel at all) for the dynamics of horror.

Jennifer is, of course, the lithe, supposedly slinky Megan Fox. Friends with Ms Seyfried’s better- behaved student, Jennifer spends her days sneering at dweebs and her evenings sneaking into sleazy nightspots. One evening, after encountering a dreadful indie band at a noisy dive, she somehow gets transformed into an actual, rather than just a figurative, demon. Much chomping of male flesh follows.

If you want to see a film that uses horror to offer insights into teenage sexual politics, then seek out Mitchell Lichtenstein’s recent, icky Teeth. In Jennifer’s Body, the transformation of the titular bitch into a slavering fiend does not significantly alter our perception of her earlier cattiness. Now, she’s catty like a hungry tiger rather than an inconvenienced tabby. So what?

None of this would matter if the picture functioned as a horror film, but, with a disregard for structure that reeks of arrogance, Cody just flings incidents randomly at the screen with no concern for the accumulation of tension. The most egregious example of her laziness occurs when, rather than revealing the origins of Jennifer’s condition through action, the character simply tells us what happened on the fateful night.

The real shame is that, devoid of proper context, the dialogue now really does seem – as the Cody- haters contend – like little more than a series of unattached, curled-lip one-liners. You can do much better than this, Ms C.

JENNIFER’S BODY **

Directed by Karyn Kusama. Starring Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, JK Simmons 15 cert, gen release, 102 min

Also opening

On release today without a press preview is The Fourth Kind

(15A cert, gen release). Starring Milla Jovovich, this sci-fier pretends to be a documentary detailing alien abductions in, of all places, Nome, Alaska.

GREEN RATING ****:The teen slasher has a reasonably low footprint, though it could have been less taxing on the environment: that burned-down bar must have used up plenty of fuel and wood. Having said that, the most heavily utilised assets are pithy dialogue and fake blood. JG