Jennifer’s Body is a 2009 teen black comedy and supernatural drama starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfriend. Working with Diablo Cody again following their creative collaborative efforts on the film Juno, Jason Reitman stated he and producers “want to make unusual films”. Juno follows the story of a young teenage girl who falls pregnant by her best friend accidentally during high school. It’s a comedy about an alternative smart tomboy who finds herself in an awkward situation. Using humor it looks at very realistic characters, their family and friends dealing with the unplanned parenthood of two teenagers who have not even reached adulthood themselves. The situation is believable and does happen. With Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman’s work on Jennifers Body it’s a slightly more macabre and comical look at adolescent female friendships.
“I wanted the film to speak to female empowerment and explore the complex relationships between female best friends” – Diablo Cody
Jennifer’s Body is actually a pop culture references to the song of same name by alternative 90s band ‘Hole’. It is a very clever title regarding the narrative of the film specifically. In a small town called Devil’s Kettle in Minnesota Needy Lesnicki and Jennifer Check are best friends from toddlers to high school. This is all they really have in common. Needy is studious, cultured, polite and thinks of others before herself. Meanwhile Jennifer is materialistic, self centered, often spiteful without provocation and uses her beauty for self gain. It’s history ties them together forever.
After a mysterious fire at a local bar, Jennifer becomes even more of a selfish bully than usual and seems to develop a deep appetite for human male blood. Needy discovers that Jennifer was sacrificed by a rock band who were playing a gig at the venue. This band are convinced that if they offer a virgin female to the Devil, fame and financial success awaits them. However Jennifer is not dead but transformed into a real life man eating demon because she was not a virgin but extremely promiscuous.
There are so many black comic jokes aimed at female friendships it is at times a comedy film form of self analytical feminism as to how females treat each other and themselves. The phrase ‘Man Eater’ springs to mind which is often used to shame women who enjoy having many partners. Here it is reversed by Diablo Cody as a genuine full premise for a teen horror narrative.
To call Jennifer’s Body teen horror is a stretch and loose genre categorising. The killing spree Jennifer embarks on after demon possession is only of young men in her high school. It’s brief, comical and silly rather than actually genuinely frightening. It is really satire on how easily these young boys are blinded, fooled and manipulated by her appearance, popularity and looks. This eventually leads to their downfall and death. I think Diablo Cody is poking fun at a wider social problem outside of the film about society placing attractive people particularly women on pedestals even if they lack morality.
“Jennifer is evil!! Not like mean high school evil but like EVIL!! I looked it up in the occult section of the library” – Needy
The dialogue tone of the screenplay is funny and sarcastic as with all her previous writing. There is an inevitable cat-fight during the climax between Needy and Jennifer. Needy is bitten by Jennifer before she dies and the demon passes into her. This may seem like a usual horror formulaic end twist which it is. I also think it’s a metaphor for Cody’s themes of toxic female friendships. You are the company that you keep. How long can a person stay friends with another without eventually absorbing and imitating their behaviour good or bad.
Von Von Lamunu