Tonight Fox showed off what is roughly the first fifteen minutes of Jennifer’s Body, and followed the presentation with a brief mini-press conference featuring star Megan Fox, director Karyn Kusama, writer Diablo Cody and producer Jason Reitman. The footage surprised me; I didn’t think much of the trailer, but really enjoyed the vibe that was given a chance to develop over these early sequences that set the film’s tone. I walked away thinking of Jennifer’s Body much as I did Drag Me To Hell last year: this could be a smart but (in some ways) old-school horror film created by people who love the form.Many more details after the jump, but (obviously, since I’m talking about the first chunk of the movie) there are some potential spoilers. I’ll keep them to a minimum.
Essentially, what we see is a friendship between Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried). It reminded me of the Laura Palmer – Donna Hayward relationship from Twin Peaks. That is, Jennifer is hot and knows it, but has maybe some unexpected latent naivete; Needy looks like a wallflower at first blush, but is perceptive and has some backbone. When she and Jennifer go out to a crappy roadhouse to catch a lousy rock band from the ‘big city’, Needy wastes no time calling out the singer’s cocky bullshit as he tries to skeeve on a very willing Jennifer.
Things go bad at the roadhouse — think fire, and lots of it — and Jennifer disappears. Back at home Needy is concerned, and while talking to her boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons, aka Young Neil from Scott Pilgrim vs the World) Jennifer shows up. But something is really, really wrong. This is where Fox gets to play creepy, and let out the sort of blood-curdling roar that actors must occasionally dream of, and where the movie starts to look like it might be fairly damaged. That’s a good thing. That might not sound like fifteen minutes worth of material, but what Kusama and Cody do is set up a nice little small town world where Jennifer is probably the hottest thing going. They do it with room for the characters to breathe without feeling like they’re just being set up for the kill.