Warning: spoilers ahead.
Megan Fox has been in the news a lot lately. Her very public and very intense relationship with Machine Gun Kelly (and their blood vial necklaces) has garnered plenty of media attention. She may be one half of the media’s favourite couple right now, but Megan Fox – by way of her new film, Till Death – is back to remind us why she became a star in the first place: extreme acting chops.
The twists and turns of Megan Fox’s acting career
I think we can all agree that the world wasn’t ready for Jennifer’s Body in 2009. The horror comedy starred Megan Fox as a bisexual, man-eating demon and Amanda Seyfried as her terrified best friend. It was a total flop when it came out, but has since been redefinined in the zeitgeist as a feminist cult classic.
Since Megan Fox’s appearance in Jennifer’s Body, she’s had a couple of prominent roles, including a stand-in for Zooey Deschanel in New Girl and a sexy human lady in the semi-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for some reason. (Seriously, what the fuck?)
But in this obsessed writer’s humble opinion, Megan Fox is truly at her best when she’s in pure horror mode, and particularly when she’s reminding us that all men are babies.
That’s why Till Death hit all the right notes for me.
Enter: ‘Till Death’
I’m not going to lie – the start of the movie won’t hook you. You see a basically catatonic Megan Fox playing Emma, a traumatised housewife having an affair with her husband’s work colleague.
It’s big “go girl, give us nothing” vibes for the first 15 minutes, as you see a slow set-up of the film and little-to-no energy from anyone. The couple head to a secluded cabin in the middle of winter as an attempt to rekindle their dying romance, which I suppose is nice.
Then, 22 minutes in, all hell breaks loose.
Megan Fox becomes handcuffed to her abusive husband’s dead body, who is enacting a final revenge plot to punish her.
It becomes obvious through recorded voice messages he leaves around the house that he’s not just punishing her for cheating. He’s attempting to blame all of his life problems on her. This becomes one of the movie’s recurring motifs: men scapegoating women for their shitty actions and shittier lives.
It’s fair to say that Megan Fox’s performance absolutely skyrockets from here. Initially shocked and traumatised, she quickly turns to a vibe of “I couldn’t give a fuck my husband is dead”, and is hell-bent on getting out of the cabin ASAP.
She even tells his corpse she thought he’d be “lighter without all the blood” as she struggles to drag him around the house. She is unbothered by the fact that her toxic man died, she just wants this nuisance off her arm. A vibe, I guess?
(The feet thing)
I’m pausing here to address the real unexplained obsession with feet in this movie.
There’s several close-up scenes where Megan Fox wraps her feet in wedding dress tulle, many comments about her keeping her footsies warm, plus a particularly tense drawn-out scene where she almost loses her toes. What’s happening here? Did MGK have a hand in this?
Feet aside, Megan’s character makes a couple of smart moves: putting his suit on to keep her warm (of course she slept in lingerie), and dragging his body around on her bloodied-up wedding dress to make him easier to slide around the cabin.
These moves also make me realise how utterly useless I’d be in a horror movie situation. If I woke up chained to my ex-husband’s corpse, I would simply roll onto my side and pass away.
Megan Fox, ‘sex symbol’
Of course, Till Death’s imagery has something that no Megan Fox film can escape: she’s hot. This time around though, it feels less like the Transformers days of yore where Megan was garnering a lot of media attention as a sex symbol – complete with endless comparisons to Angelina Jolie and the crown of FHM’s “Sexiest Woman in the World" in 2008.
Because of this sex symbol status, Fox’s character in Transformers was largely a two-dimensional oversexualised ‘damsel in distress’ type, who did her thing all the while wearing a highly impractical outfit for the amount of running around she had to do. Her tiny pink single and low rise denim mini-skirt became instantly recognisable, particularly as she sexily leans over (and suggestively jacks off?) a car. The camera movement alone tells us everything we need to know about her characterisation in this era.
Fox used the sex symbol status of those days in her stride, but has since reflected the complicated ways in which it impacted her. As she told E! in 2010, “My biggest regret is that I've assisted the media in making me into a cartoon character. I don't regret what has happened to me, but I regret the way I have dealt with it.”
After being fired from the cast of Transformers 3, Megan Fox largely disappeared from the public eye, citing how intense the media scrutiny had become. Fox told ET in 2019 that during this time she “didn’t want to be seen.”
“I didn’t want to have to take a photo, do a magazine, walk a carpet. I didn’t want to be seen in public at all because the fear, and the belief, and the absolute certainty that I was going to be mocked, or spat at, or someone was going to yell at me, or people would stone me or savage me for just being out,” she said.
She commented that she had “endured some genuinely harrowing experiences in a ruthlessly misogynistic industry,” in response to fans in an uproar over a resurfaced sexist interview on Jimmy Kimmel.
Megan Fox returns
Megan Fox has since unashamedly stepped back into the public eye, reclaiming her appearance . Fast forward to this year’s Met Gala, she told red carpet host Keke Palmer that she’s “not afraid to be sexy”.
"A woman who is intelligent and also knows how to weaponise her beauty… there's nothing more dangerous than that. There's nothing more powerful than that,” Fox said.
It’s fair to say that Megan Fox, like many women in Hollywood, carries a remarkably complex legacy. What’s the difference between being sexualised and owning your sexuality? Do women have slightly more agency over their narratives now? These aren’t really questions I can definitively answer, but with this new film, her relationship with one of pop punk’s biggest stars, and her comments at the Met Gala, it’s clear Megan looks to own her story in ways that she just couldn’t 10 years ago.
In Till Death, we have a far more fleshed out character – and one that’s stereotypically sexualised far less – than in Transformers. Megan Fox is the hero, and the film is dripping with criticism of immature men. It’s fitting that Till Death, one of Fox’s biggest films in years, overtly critiques misogyny and the dismissal of women’s agency – when those are the very things that drove Fox away from the industry to begin with.
There’s a line in Till Death that has stuck with me, where Megan’s character, Emma exasperates to her dead husband’s body, “I was dragging your lifeless corpse around long before you put a bullet in that deranged head of yours. I’m going to cut myself free of you if it’s the last thing I do.” Emma is expressing here what happens when women bear the brunt of male rage; they face the fallout from the actions of the toxic men in their lives. Regaining their power can be an immensely difficult step. This, surely, is a concept Megan Fox can relate to.
In Till Death, Megan Fox is in full final girl form. She carries the movie with her performance. Is this Jennifer’s Body 2? Not quite. But here, Fox is at her best.
There are many different meanings and takeaways one could construe from Till Death (and you know I have). Maybe the most striking takeaway is the simplest. Unlike Jennifer’s Body, in Till Death, Fox is the hero as opposed to the villain – one keen to remind us that when men can’t handle their emotions, very bad things happen.