Jennifer’s Body: Unrated (Blu-ray)
Directed by Karyn Kusama
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 102/107 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, Portuguese
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, others
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: December 29, 2009
Review Date: December 31, 2009
There have been tons of teenage horror movies but a teenage horror flick penned by an Oscar-winning screenwriter is indeed a novel event, and that’s probably the most interesting thing about Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body. Diablo Cody has provided her usual smartass teenage dialogue in a tale that mixes teen angst, the competitiveness of women for men, and demonic possession. The fright elements of the picture are strictly routine, but beneath the surface of this ghoulish little movie rests a potentially fascinating film about girls who grow apart as their interests in boys widen. Too bad the blood and guts sometimes get in the way of a really promising film pitting a dominant female against her emerging rival.
Best friends since childhood Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) escape a fire at a local club, but Jennifer, who went there to hook up with the band’s lead singer, jumps into a van with the rockers and later that night arrives back at Needy’s covered in blood and vomiting up a black spiky tar substance before leaving. The next morning, Jennifer is as gorgeous as ever, but the school population is mourning the death of one of their classmates, the first in a series of murders with school-aged guys being devoured. Jennifer seems unmoved by it all as Needy slowly begins to realize that her friend, though always selfish and self-serving, has changed in ways she isn’t ready to deal with.
Diablo Cody’s demonic possession storyline isn’t as suspenseful or as frightening as any average episode of TV’s Supernatural, so its only real claim to fame is the frequently sassy and occasionally witty dialogue she has both of her leading teenaged characters spouting off (it’s easy to tell these words were written by the award-winning writer of Juno). Karyn Kusama doesn’t revel in the gore effects as Jennifer’s monster chews off the faces, necks, and other body parts of her assorted victims, but she’s fond of showing off camera moves for no reason other than that she can have them (a long, long tracking shot toward Jennifer’s second victim, a burly football player, is completely unnecessary; an extremely tight close-up of two girls kissing seems gratuitously long). There is one startling moment: before Jennifer eviscerates the young man, a group of forest creatures gather around to watch the carnage. It’s an eerily evocative shot, supremely creepy and effective and one which the film could have used many more of. Instead we get absurd projectile vomiting and levitations that are far more funny than scary. One almost expects the bed in Needy’s room to start bouncing up and down in the best tradition of The Exorcist, but thankfully, we are spared this.
Effortlessly beautiful, Megan Fox gets to play bitchy and predatory as Jennifer, something she has no trouble handling. Amanda Seyfried is outfitted in a pair of hideous glasses to hide her own attractiveness since she’s supposed to be the plain-Jane of the twosome, but the film is actually more of a showcase for her than for the top-billed Fox since she goes through the most radical changes of mood and behavior. She’s unquestionably the acting talent of the film. Johnny Simmons plays her sweetly naïve boy friend who must learn the hard way to listen to his lover when friends all around him are being eaten alive. J. K. Simmons enlivens a few scenes as a one-handed schoolteacher with an accent straight out of Fargo.
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a reference quality 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color saturation and sharpness are superb resulting in a really dimensional image that is extremely enthralling. Flesh tones are precise, and all that blood looks real without the red blooming distractingly. Black levels are excellent with impressive shadow detail. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix makes very good use of its surround channels for much of the film. There are a few times when one would expect more atmospheric use of the rears, but for the most part, there is notably good use of pans across the soundstage, and the LFE channel gets a nice workout as well. The music by Theodore Shapiro and Steven Barton effectively “bumps” and “screeches” when necessary to enliven the film’s suspense quotient.
The disc contains both the theatrical cut and the extended unrated edition of the movie. The five extra minutes in the unrated edition are not actually additional gore and sex shots but rather extensions of scenes involving parents and friends of the slain boys during the film.
Director Karyn Kusama and writer Diablo Cody provide the audio commentary for the theatrical cut of the film. Kusama does by far the most talking, mostly complimenting Cody’s script and their decisions about certain aspects of the production they consider really important or groundbreaking. It’s quite a bit of start-and-stop as the film progresses. In the unrated extended edition of the film, Karyn Kusama has provided additional commentary just for the scenes which have been put back in (noted by a red slate in the lower right hand corner of the screen) expressing her feelings about their eventual excision.
There are six deleted scenes which may be watched individually or in one 14-minute grouping. They’re in 1080p.
The film’s gag reel runs for 5 minutes in 480i.
“Jennifer’s Body: The Dead Pool” is the movie’s EPK featurette, 14 minutes of discussion of the film’s themes, praise for the film’s stars (particularly Megan Fox), and some interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses at how the special demonic effects were accomplished. This is presented in 1080p.
There are four video diaries as a cameraman follows around some of the film’s principals especially during the shooting of the film’s climactic indoor pool showdown. The participants are Megan Fox and Johnny Simmons, Amanda Seyfried, Diablo Cody, and producer Daniel Dubiecki. They may be watching individually or in one 12 ¾-minute bunch. They’re presented in 1080i.
“Megan Fox Is Hot” is a true statement, and this 1-minute vignette consists of a montage of film clips from the movie. They’re in 1080p.
The Megan Fox P.S.A. is a goof on the film as Fox in character as Jennifer states her desire to chew up anyone she wishes. It runs for ¾ of a minute in 480i.
“Fox Movie Channel Presents Life After Film School” is another in the series of interviews with three film school students interviewing a show business veteran. Here Diablo Cody describes her own unusual career trajectory and offers advice for anyone interested in pursuing show business. It runs 26 ½ minutes in 480i.
The second disc in the set is the digital copy of the film with instructions enclosed for installing on Mac and PC devices.
There are 1080p trailers for Gentlemen Broncos, All About Steve, Whip It, Fame, and (500) Days of Summer, among others. The trailer for Jennifer’s Body is not provided.
3/5 (not an average)
Jennifer’s Body is a run-of-the-mill horror movie, its status elevated somewhat with its chipper dialogue and some attractive and talented performers. The Blu-ray experience is exemplary with stunning picture and most effective sound, somewhat wasted on a less than scintillating enterprise.