A lot went down in 2009. Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, “Glee” aired its very first episode and Kanye West infamously interrupted Taylor Swift during her VMA acceptance speech. There was one cultural event, however, that eclipses all of these. An event that is often overlooked, but just as important nonetheless. An event that must now be recognized and celebrated for all its glory. And that event is none other than the theatrical release of the cinematic masterpiece that is “Jennifer’s Body.”
Yes, this month marks the 10th anniversary of the very moment audiences across the globe witnessed Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried completely reimagine the horror genre as we know it. You heard me right. Jamie Lee Curtis, stop quaking. Now, it’s time to look back on this teen flick and figure out what exactly makes it the seminal classic it is today.
Written by Diablo Cody of “Juno” and directed by Karyn Kusama, the story follows Jennifer (Fox) and Needy (Seyfried), two unlikely best friends just trying to navigate high school. Everything changes however when a hot, new band, “Low Shoulder,” comes to town. In a whirlwind night that involves a bar fire and a Satanic sacrifice gone wrong, Jennifer ends up turning into a demonically possessed succubus. With Jennifer out on the loose feasting upon her male classmates, Needy has to try and find a way to stop her friend in an epic prom night battle before it’s too late.
Not only is “Jennifer’s Body” the perfect balance of everything a good horror film should be, with equal parts gore, comedy and overall, well, horror, the movie has also essentially become a time capsule for everything great about 2000s culture. I mean, it literally features Adam Brody in eyeliner and for some reason, a young Christ Pratt, but that’s beside the point. The film showcases the impeccable fashion of the era, featuring no shortage of low rise jeans, camisole tops with cardigans, giant hoop earrings and of course, lots and lots of lip gloss. What’s more, the soundtrack is basically every former scene kid’s dream playlist with songs from decade-defining artists like All Time Low to Paramore to Cobra Starship and Cute Is What We Aim For. And who could forget the main track fans associate with the film, Panic at the Disco’s “New Perspective”? Truly, the bop of the millennium.
While the 44% this classic receives on Rotten Tomatoes is quite honestly offensive, it has become a sort of cult classic over the years. College-aged kids, who likely discovered it around or a few years after its initial release, are practically obsessed with it. A decade later, girls are still dressing up as Jennifer for Halloween and edgelords are still quoting some of its iconic lines on Twitter. Heck, people are still writing fan fiction on the topic. So what makes “Jennifer’s Body” such a standout film and perfect candidate for a niche cult following?
To start, “Jennifer’s Body” was both written and directed by women as well as stars two bad—s chicks, which combined with the overall feminist undertones of the plot, sets the film apart from a lot of what was popular in horror at its release and even today. Not to mention, the film also features bi and queer representation that is so often missing from horror plots. Sure, there is a ton of dark, borderline satirical comedy. Let’s be real, will there ever be a more iconic death scene than Megan Fox getting stabbed in the chest and her final words being, “Ouch. My t-t?” But, for a film that at times seems to be poking fun at the horror genre, it also features a good deal of heavy, real-world topics to make the story all the more harrowing.
If this isn’t enough to make you start looking at “Jennifer’s Body” in a new light, then one could even go as far as to say that the film reinvented, if not defined, a lot of the aspects we think of in horror today. The final girl is an old trope, but “Jennifer’s Body” does something different with it. Needy, the last girl standing, doesn’t simply defeat the monster and live to tell the tale like all the other final girls before and after her. She becomes the monster. A story that all started out with the token hot girl, nerdy best friend and a sad-boy rock band becomes a nightmarish tale in which not a single soul makes it out unscathed.
Although it might have been ill-received at its initial release, it’s safe to say that “Jennifer’s Body” would completely implode the teen entertainment world if it were released today. Without Jennifer, we wouldn’t have modern hits like “Cabin in the Woods,” “Happy Death Day,” “Truth or Dare,” or “The Babysitter.” No, Jennifer walked so that the teen horror genre as a whole could run. While some of these films might have gotten more recognition than good ol’ Jennifer, real fans know that any teen horror or dark comedy flick can never truly match up to the queen herself.
Ten years later, audiences continue to huddle around TV screens and return to Devil’s Kettle to experience the thrills of “Jennifer’s Body.” Thankfully, it seems as though in recent years, the mainstream is coming to terms with the fact that the film was heinously overlooked when it first came out. Now, all die-hard fans can ask for is that “Jennifer’s Body” finally join the ranks of “Scream” and “Friday the 13th” to be fully recognized as the seminal, cult classic it truly is. So, when you’re rounding up a list of the most iconic horror films of all time to watch this Halloween, don’t forget to throw your good old feminist icon, Jennifer, on the list. And remember: “Hell is a teenage girl.”