She’s evil…and not just high school evil..
A newly-possessed high-school cheerleader turns into a succubus who specializes in killing her male classmates. Can her best friend put an end to the horror?
Well, this was a lot of fun. I haven’t watched it since it first came out. I remember thinking it was okay but really dumb. At that time in my life, (early 20’s) I was more entertained with the horror that aligned more with SAW and Hostile so I remember thinking this was boring. Watching it now, over a decade later..I appreciate it much more. I can recognize the bisexual rep quite a bit and not have the blinders of the male gaze to influence my viewing this time.
The things that stood out most to me were the comedic moments throughout that comes through during the tense moments. I really does give similar vibes of Jawbreaker and Mean Girls. It’s honestly really smart and funny. The scary/creepy moments are genuinely unsettling–for example, when Jennifer reappears at Needy’s house in the middle of the night, revealing the horror she’s gone through all over her body but her smiling face is beyond sinister. You just don’t know what to think and expect the worse. With how the scene was filmed, the slow reveal of the ‘sex symbol’ being covered in blood and seeing how terrified her best friend is…it’s a moment that just sticks with me.
Again, with the comedic parts, I enjoyed the dialogue more than I expected. It comes off as a cliche high school experience but in a campy, goofy way like the movie Clueless. It shows the innocence of high school even during a time of tragedy (a local bar burned down, killing a bunch of people–also, boys in their school slowly getting murdered). This is very reminiscent of my high school years (’99-’03) where I went to school during the times of the Columbine shootings and 9/11. The grief we experienced really paralyzed the school and having those kind of memorialized assemblies plus the constant fear of knowing we were essentially not 100% safe anywhere (school, work, prom). Times changed quite a bit during those times for the youth and have progressed to the fears happening today with school shooting procedures, bullet proof vests in backpacks and all the anger involved.
As for the sexuality in Jennifer’s Body, it was handled pretty well in my opinion. The intimate scene between Needy and her boyfriend was so innocent and wasn’t overly gratuitous. It felt realistic and not overdone like some movies. What stood out most was Jennifer’s death scene with Needy. It felt extremely intimate and with the box cutter (“so butch” Jennifer insult to Needy), the box cutter is very phallic and with Needy on top, she stabs Jennifer in the heart. Jennifer reacts with “my tit” and Needy responds with “your heart.” I felt this was exactly how Jennifer felt during moments of intimacy with anyone, she was just a body but to Needy–she was much more. I could see the true love between these friends and it was an unspoken type of attraction. There were moments throughout the movie where hints of the attraction is shown (thanks to Jennifer’s new ability to magically attract people to her) and a comment from Jennifer “I go both ways.” She only kills boys throughout the movie and essentially just uses them for their bodies (eating them). With all the power and energy she gets from destroying her male victims, she becomes more lively and beautiful. Reminds me of how in high school, the boys who would sleep around and would get the reputation of being untouchable and an idol but if a girl were to do the same thing, well–that’s unacceptable in our society. Jennifer flips the gender norm here but also still does things in hiding (showing shame). Now back to the creepy moment with Needy, Jennifer was so close to killing her but doesn’t–this could represent the hesitation of truly giving into your sexuality/denying herself or shows her love for her friend. Powerful enough to stop the evil nature in her and not causing harm to the one she loves most.
These are just some ideas that come to mind after immediately watching the film. I actually rewatched this to read essays from IT CAME FROM THE CLOSE – QUEER REFLECTIONS ON HORROR which Jennifer’s Body is written about. I look forward to the fresh insights and see what the authors think. I might come back and add more to this after a while.
Overall, I loved this movie and now want to read all the essays about it. This is easily a modern horror classic for my generation. There’s the occult, body horror, trauma, fear, blood, sacrifice, revenge, queer love, friendships and quirky early 2000’s remarks–love it.
8/10 (Watched on Prime)
Director: Karyn Kusama
2009, R, 1h 42m