The Movie Review: 'Jennifer's Body'

"Hell is a teenage girl," Jennifer's Body announces in its opening moments. But the film's thesis is really more particular: Hell is a teenage girl who has been unsuccessfully sacrificed to Satan by an alt-rock band and, as a result, finds that she has become a flesh-eating demon. It's a difficult case to contest.

After a brief prologue that finds the movie's good-girl protagonist, Needy Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried), kicking ass and taking names in a penitentiary somewhere, the movie rewinds to explain how she arrived at this unhappy juncture. It begins when Needy's best friend, gigavamp Jennifer Check (Megan Fox), persuades her to go to a club out in the sticks--really, less a club than a low-slung, rural dive boasting what must be the last jukebox in the country that offers Foreigner without irony. Jennifer's plan is to seduce the cute vocalist, Nikolai (Adam Brody), of the band playing there, and she wants Needy along to play wing-girl.

But during the performance, sparks fly--the real kind--and the whole venue burns to the ground, with the girls and the band barely escaping with their lives. Jennifer is in shock, and creepy Nikolai seizes the moment, pouring a large drink into her underage mouth, hustling the dazed girl into the band's van, and driving off with her. "I watched her get into that van and just knew something awful was going to happen," Needy announces, in the most unnecessary scrap of voiceover to hit multiplexes this year.

When it comes, though, the awful thing is at least not the usual awful thing: Late the same night, Jennifer shows up at Needy's house, covered in blood and declaring herself famished. After wolfing down an entire Boston Market chicken, she roars like a banshee and then vomits a river of black ooze. This is not, one assumes, the product placement the Boston Market folks were hoping for.

Needy doesn't know it yet, but Jennifer has been transformed from a proverbial maneater into a literal one, and it is not long before she begins working her way through the male student population. Boys being boys, and Jennifer being Megan Fox, these one-night rends take the form of an easy bait-and-switch in which she promises one form of carnal association but delivers another altogether--intercourse supplanted by main course. Suffice it to say that if you do not want to see Megan Fox cupping her hands to lap up the bloody innards of a boy she has just disemboweled, this is not the movie for you.

Indeed, even if that image appeals, Jennifer's Body is still probably not the movie for you. Considerable talent was involved in making the film: penned by Diablo Cody, whose one previous script, for Juno, took home an Oscar; directed by Karyn Kusama, whose 2000 Girlfight was a burst of fresh air; and starring two of the more in-demand young actresses of the moment in Fox and Seyfried. One would expect Jennifer's Body to offer more than your typical C-grade horror flick. Alas, it doesn't.

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Christopher Orr is a senior editor and the principal film critic at The Atlantic. He has written on movies for The New Republic, LA Weekly, Salon, and The New York Sun, and has worked as an editor for numerous publications.

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