After a big, career-making splash, most young filmmakers choose a safe project for their follow up. Not so with Oscar-winning “Juno” screenwriter Diablo Cody. Instead of playing it safe Cody, and with the assistance of Director Karyn Kasuma, Producer Jason Reitman, and stars Meagan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, Cody has crafted a slick, darkly funny splatterfest that aims to tear up the box office come September.
The film, a sort of kinky, post-feminist take on the satanic-cult subgenre, centers on Jennifer (Fox) who, after a satanic ritual gone haywire, ends up with demonic powers that she uses to eat boys alive, literally. Her best friend Needy (Seyfried) is then forced to try and save the day.
Earlier tonight at Comic-Con I was fortunate enough to see most of the first act of the film and speak to Reitman, Kusama, Cody, and Fox.
Hit the jump for the details.
The evening began with about 15 minutes of footage from the finished film. These scenes detailed the semi-lesbian relationship between Jennifer and Needy as they spend a night out on the town at the local “club,” which is really a dive bar with a neon sign proclaiming “No ID Required.”
During the evening, Jennifer meets Nikolai Wolf (Adam Brody), the slinky lead singer of a hipster-emo band that has chosen to play at the bar in an effort to find a virgin to sacrifice to Satan in exchange for fame. Unbeknownst to the band, Jennifer is not a virgin at all. In fact, she proudly proclaims that she’s, “not even a backdoor virgin anymore.”
After the bar burns down during the band’s set, Jennifer ends up in their “1989 Rapemobile” van which vanishes into the night. When we see her again, she is vomiting oily black blood, ravenously eating chicken off the kitchen floor, and screaming like a banshee.
The film has an interesting tone, playing as a straight horror film (and an effective one at that) while also boasting the signature stylized, youth-culture dialogue that I have sampled above. The jumps, and are gooey bits are surprisingly scary. On the whole it is not dissimilar to the mood shifts of Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell”, and if the film can keep the tight pacing of what I saw, it’s entirely possible that it could be an even better film.
Kasuma has an eye for horror, creating tension within the shot even in scenes where nothing obviously creepy in happening. I found myself tensed, waiting for a jump-scare, but when it came I still found myself surprised at the ingenuity with which it was engineered. Seyfried is a likeable protagonist, and though her narration is perhaps a step too “Juno-esque”, her on-screen persona is endearing and her meek demeanor is tempered with a nuance that implies a kickass Survivor Girl.
During the interviews, Fox made an effort to distance herself from her previous media character. She displayed a stronger sense of self than I expected and seemed to enjoy the ability to casually drop F-bombs now that her tour of duty promoting a certain billion-dollar toy franchise has finished. Meanwhile, Cody and Reitman came off as almost shy in comparison to Fox’s blunt, funny, and occasionally flirting answers.
Here are some of the choice quotes:
Cody would screen this film as a double feature with Fright Night.
Fox on her character: It’s fun to be able to say the kind of shit she gets to say and get away with it and have people find it charming.
Both Cody and Kasuma see the film as a feminist story while also being, “delightfully exploitative.”
Cody: For me, I was kind of trying to simultaneously pay tribute to the kind of conventions that we’ve already seen in horror while also turning them on their ear. So it was truly a sort of post-modern thriller because I grew up watching all those horror movies, but I had never seen this particular subgenre done with girls.
Cody tried to write the film as a dark and brooding horror film but quickly discovered that it simply wasn’t in her to not add humor.
The film makes use of practical effects over CG, both as an homage and because Kasuma personally prefers the look.
Reitman fondly remembers sneaking down to watch his father’s Laserdisc of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in the middle of the night.
Reitman has seen “See No Evil” but not “The 400 Blows”.
Fox on the difference between this film and “Transformers”: There’s no giant robots to distract you so you can focus on my performance. So if it’s terrible, you’re gonna know that it’s really fuckin’ terrible. So that’s intimidating.
Fox on the sexiness of the film: This movie gets so sexy! You better put on your fuckin’ sexy shoes for this on for this one. Before every kill there is a seduction because these boys have to get close enough to this dead girl for her to devour them. And I think I’m pretty sexy in it.
Kusama says there is a completed director’s cut of “Aeon Flux” somewhere out there and she hopes it will one day reach DVD.
Reitman’s father once took him camping and told him “Alien” as a campfire story. When Jason saw the movie, he thought someone had ripped his father off.
Fox has not seen a horror movie since “Darkness Falls”. She slept in her mother’s bed for 2 weeks.
Cody is terrified of fire so she asked to be burned to death on screen to conquer her fear. However, the insurance company would not allow it.
“Jennifer’s Body” will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival during midnight madness then see wide release on September 18th.