Jennifer’s Body

      Comments Off on Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer’s Body (2009) has been the subject of a remarkable reappraisal since its initial release. In those intervening years critics and audience’s have embraced its feminist message. When Jennifer’s Body first came out critics compared it unfavorably to Diablo Cody’s earlier effort as a screenwriter, Juno (2007), while television spots and trailers sold the film as a Megan Fox sex romp. The para-texts that preceded Jennifer’s Body no doubt mislead and tainted the film for audiences who either wanted or expected one type of film and got another.

Diablo Cody often receives the bulk of the acclaim for Jennifer’s Body and rightly so. The script features all of the off color humor of Juno but directed to a fine point that’s aimed like a knife to the heart of the systemically predatory behavior of male pop stars and the music industry. Cody also barrows a page or two from Heathers (1989) in her lambasting of high school social politics.

The unsung hero of Jennifer’s Body is director Karyn Kusama.Kusama followed her underrated action film Æon Flux (2005) with Jennifer’s Body, solidifying her status as the premiere purveyor of darkly comic and grittily violent films about women. Kusama’s most recent feature, the award winning Destroyer (2018), builds on the director’s highly expressionistic style that has its roots in Jennifer’s Body. Kusama brings to Cody’s script a keen sense for the cinematically intertextual, drawing on such diverse influences as Robert Wiene, Hideo Nakata, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2004) to create a distinctly original take on the hight school horror film sub-genre.

The relevancy of Jennifer’s Body to the political climate of the early 2020s is undeniable. Megan Fox is abducted from a fire by a band who assume she’s a virgin fit to be sacrificed to Satan in order to ensure their commercial success. Because she is not a virgin she becomes a demon who must feed on the flesh of the living; an allegorical vessel for trauma and vengeance. The queer relationship that is suggested and briefly glimpsed between Fox and Amanda Seyfried adds another layer that indicates the transmutability of trauma.

Jennifer’s Body has gone from a flop to a cult classic in roughly a decade and will hopefully go on to be a popular modern classic. Jennifer’s Body is the best thing that Diablo Cody has ever written and an excellent showcase for Karyn Kusama. This film needs more converts and it needs them now.