30 Movies in 30 Days: Jennifer’s Body

Had I seen it before: No.

Year: 2009

Director:  Karyn Kusama

Writeer:  Diablo Cody

Where you can stream it now: Starz

What IMDb says: 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?

Why I picked it: As alluded to in some prior posts, I love finding reasons to justify my Starz subscription, which I might let lapse soon, I haven’t decided. Jennifer’s Body, is a movie that never seemed to be a super huge mainstream success, yet I know many people who have incredibly high opinions of it. I’m not 100% sure if it’s quite crossed the line into “cult favorite” but it seems pretty close. Personally, I had little to no interest in it because it seemed like a horror movie, which I don’t usually go for. But that was because I didn’t realize until fairly recently that this was written by Diablo Cody, who I usually associate with quirky comedies. Suddenly this felt like a must-see, because I wanted to see how someone who writes heartfelt comedies would handle a supernatural horror movie.


What I liked: This movie kept me guessing in a really positive way. I love that at times it just felt like a run-of-the-mill teen movie fully embracing those tropes, while at other times it felt like a movie about demonic possessions, fully embracing THOSE tropes. Of course it’s some of both, but the way it shifts back and forth kept me constantly curious to see what would happen next. It’s one of those movies where the fact that I could never 100% make sense of what was happening was a feature, not a bug.

The film very effectively employs the “show you the ending first” strategy. We start by finding out that our protagonist has gone apeshit and is in a mental institution, and there’s references to “the murder.” Yet it’s left unclear exactly who murdered who. Then we get to go back to “normal life” and see how the story unfolded and got us to that point. Knowing that ending was coming definitely got me more invested in the beginning exposition scenes than I would’ve been otherwise. It also meant that there were other points where they could keep me in the dark about something without losing me. There’s a fine line between “oooh, how mysterious!” and “wait, what the fuck is going on?” and the movie knew how to walk that line like master.

Megan Fox is also really, really good in this. I feel like it’s easy to underestimate the caliber of acting it takes to be good in this kind of a movie, but I really think the whole film is significantly stronger for having cast Megan. Whether she’s being sexy, scary, bitchy, or crying in fear, her performance is always spot on. I gained a new appreciation for her acting talent from watching this, and I’m ashamed to have ever been one of those people that just thought of her as a sexy lady with not much else to offer.

What I didn’t like: Ultimately, the movie is a lot of fun, and any flaws it does have are the kinds of flaws that are fairly excusable in this kind of genre. It’s a little tropey, but then that’s what it was going for. The characters aren’t as deep or nuanced as I typically like, but I was still able to get invested in their journey. I can see why so many people love it as much as they do.

That being said there ARE flaws. A lot of the voiceover feels unnecessary, just explaining a story we would’ve learned on our own anyway without adding any extra entertainment value to the movie. There’s that cringey line where Jennifer seduces a guy by saying he gave her a “wetty” which I’m pretty sure is not an expression, and I say that as someone who was in high school when this movie was made so don’t tell me it was just generation slang.

Probably my biggest problem though is that Needy’s bf Chip was pretty bland, and I was never invested in him or their relationship. He doesn’t really have any defining character traits outside of dating Needy and not liking Jennifer.

[SPOILERS BELOW]

I didn’t really mind this initially, but the fact that the film’s climax revolves around trying to save this milquetoast human being meant that that climax didn’t give me the level of payoff I really wanted. In theory, this moment should have much higher stakes than Jennifer’s earlier murders, but it just didn’t for me. He simply wasn’t a character I would miss.

I also love the idea of a small indie band making a deal with the devil in order to make it big, but I somewhat begrudge the movie for not doing MORE with that awesome idea. Is the devil not pissed off that their sacrifice wasn’t really a virgin? They apparently still made it really big after the sacrifice, so did the deal still work? I could’ve used a nice B plot about how this band’s life went after their botched sacrifice.

Will I watch it again: Potentially. I wouldn’t object to watching it again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to.

Who would enjoy it: A lot of people! The obvious choice is people who like horror movies, but I also feel like as horror movies go, this is a relatively light, campy take on it. I could see a lot of people who don’t think of horror as their typical genre still loving this.

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