DVD Review: Jennifer’s Body (2009) Movie

“Jennifer’s Body” never seemed to find it’s audience last September, barely making back its’ $16 million budget while “Paranormal Activity” was selling out showings despite being made for the cost of a medium grade Rolex. A bit of a pity, since this horror/comedy/satire mutation is a a pretty good way to pass two hours, and not just for Megan Fox in a cheerleader’s outfit. Hopefully this entry will find receptive audiences in the home video aisle.

Megan Fox is the Jennifer of the title, whose body is possessed by a demon when a Satan worshiping rock band botches a human sacrifice ritual. Going from the hottest girl to a literal date from Hell, she now views the guys in her school as a hormonal buffet instead of teenagers who serve to adore her. Her socially awkward friend Needy notices the shocking transformation Jennifer’s undergone, and realizes it’s up to her to destroy the girl she’s trailed after for years. Now a girl who’s hard pressed to finish her gym class has to find it within herself to stand in Hell’s way.

With a cast like Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfriend, JK Simmons, Amy Sedaris, and an uncredited cameo by Lance Hendrickson, “Jennifer’s Body” has a cast that has talent and isn’t afraid to use it. Karyn Kusama balances horror and absurdity well, and her able direction keeps things moving so effortlessly we barely notice the script problems. It’s more noticeable since the writer is Diablo Cody, who imagines a great concept but can’t write a screenplay to compliment it. The dialog is well written with some imaginatively conceived scenarios, but there are plot holes and gaps in logic that at times make it hard to suspend disbelief.

The blu-ray release presents the original theatrical version, as well as an unrated cut of the film that extends the film to around five minutes longer; while not as tightly edited as the released cut, the extended version does have some altered dialog and new character driven scenes instead of more gory action. Both editions of the film are nicely rendered in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and in widescreen format show a marked improvement over how “Jennifer’s Body” was first seen in theaters. The camerawork by M. David Mullen was well executed already, but in 1080p it can look downright gorgeous. Scenes are now richly textured, especially when the action takes place when the sun’s gone down. The shadowy darkness gives the proceedings a new aura of muted dread that allows for the illusion of the film being scarier than it actually is. The audio is equally as impressive, with the 5.1 DTS-HD providing a crisp sound that never overwhelms the scene its’ meant to enhance.

Most dvd/blu-ray releases tend to go overboard on the commentary tracks, featuring the actors, director, writers, producers, production assistants, onset nurses, distant relatives, and anybody walking by the studio during taping. So it’s a relief that “Jennifer’s Body” keeps it to just writer Diablo Cody and director Karyn Kusama, allowing for less confusion as to who is speaking and to who. The theatrical cut features both discussing the film-making process in a fairly relaxed atmosphere, although most of the speaking is done by the director. It can be an interesting window as to how the characters and story evolved, although the many gaps in conversation frequently feel like awkward silences. Kusama returns solo for commentary on the extended cut, only to illustrate the difference between the two versions. Her commentary is fairly sparse, and while a bit illuminating, it comes in too few and far between.

There’s also a deleted scenes section, showcasing six scenes cut/trimmed down from the final print that treats film fans to footage not added to either version of the film. The obligatory “making of” feature dubbed “The Dead Pool” is anything but run of the mill, showcasing Megan Fox’s demonic makeup as well as examining the filming of one of the pivotal scenes; the four video diaries kept by Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfriend, Jonny Simmons, scribe Diablo Cody, and producer Dan Dubiecki are entertaining and give plenty of on set footage. Along with a five minute gag reel, there’s a funny 30 second PSA featuring Megan Fox advocating the importance of being yourself– if you’re a boy eating teen do it, and feel good about yourself while you’re at it.”Megan Fox is Hot” is a less amusing spot, one that showcases her best shots and is likely to be viewed with a Kleenex and jar of hand cream nearby. Also included is a portable copy of the extended cut to download to a computer or MP3 player.

Despite some obvious flaws, “Jennifer’s Body” is an entertaining horror/humor fusion that’s been given a first class treatment for the blu-ray market. Two versions of the film, decently informative commentary tracks, fantastic audio/video transfer, a myriad of bonus features, a portable copy-you certainly get a lot for what you’re plunking down for it. It’s obvious this will never be a classic, but it’s fun that occasionally borders on the mindless with enough bonus content to keep even the most seriously afflicted movie junkie satisfied.

Karyn Kusama (director) / Diablo Cody (screenplay)
CAST: Megan Fox … Jennifer Check
Amanda Seyfried … Needy Lesnicky
Johnny Simmons … Chip
Adam Brody … Nikolai Wolf
Sal Cortez … Chas
Ryan Levine … Mick
Juan Riedinger … Dirk

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