Jennifer's Body: Jaw Dropping VFX
Megan Fox as a boy eating demon in Jennifer's Body, scripted by Diablo Cody (Juno) and directed by Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux). Talk about transformers. Not surprisingly, the "amazing subtext in this world of upside morality of a high school" offered quite an opportunity to Erik Nordby (The Haunting in Connecticut) and the team at MPC Vancouver.
"We immediately went into pitch mode in January and spent a solid two weeks trying to not only bid the script but also collect as much reference material and stuff for the first client get together," Nordby recalls. "It became clear that the director and producers were looking for an old-school, hands-off, lo-fi approach to the visual effects. They wanted the horror elements to read naturalistically and not overpower the storyline."
That fell right in line with how MPC read the film and provided a clear direction for Nordby and his team. "At that point when we met with them, they had already met with KNB, who had already done up a stylized still of what, at the time, they were calling 'Evil Jennifer.' There was a lot of info yet to come, but based on the script, Jennifer goes from very beautiful Megan Fox to a very ghoulish, succubus creature whose jaw distends half-way down her face. They had a version of that, which they prefaced by saying it was probably a little too far. They felt confident with [KNB's] work: they just wanted to tone it down a bit.
"So from there, we produced some tests, grabbing a bunch of stills from Megan and doing our own work to indicate how that balance could exist between special effects and visual effects and still maintain a level of subtlety. They responded really well."
Most of the prep was devoted to the face. Very quickly in combination with special effects and makeup, MPC came up with a five-station system for what Jennifer goes through:
"Stage one is beautiful Jennifer and then two and three were strictly makeup where her eyes become more recessed and she would start to look plain like the rest of us. And stage four was some custom dentures that KNB made for her, and then visual effects in stage four was mainly facial warping and recessing her eyes some more and having a pinning effect to her irises and a variety of other musculature deforms, just bringing her cheek bones down more.
"And stage five was the full on, as crazy as it gets, which you don't really see until near the end. Before we started shooting, it involved the full appliance attached to Megan's face and then her real jaw would be greened essentially inside of her mouth and then the appliance would drop below her real jaw and then visual effects essentially owned everything in her mouth and everything outside would've been a special effects appliance. And then there would've been a lot of clean up as well because of the way it attached to her face."