Jennifer’s Body, 2009. Directed by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight) and written by Diablo Cody (Juno).
Nerdy, reserved bookworm Needy and arrogant, conceited cheerleader Jennifer are best friends, though they share little in common. They share even less in common when Jennifer mysteriously gains an appetite for human blood after a disastrous fire at a local bar. As Needy’s male classmates are steadily killed off in gruesome attacks, the young girl must uncover the truth behind her friend’s transformation and find a way to stop the bloodthirsty rampage before it reaches her own boyfriend Chip. (the imdb)
“Jennifer’s Body” is not only a fantasy of revenge against the predatory male sex, though the ultimate enactment of that revenge is awfully satisfying. The antagonism and attraction between boys and girls is a relatively straightforward (if, in this case, grisly) matter; the real terror, the stuff of Needy’s nightmares, lies in the snares and shadows of female friendship.
(“Hell is other people, especially the popular girl.” 18 September 2009. Scott, A.O. The New York Times.)
The relationship between Needy and Jennifer is rivalrous, sisterly, undermining, sadomasochistic, treacherous and tender. …
Ms. Cody and Ms. Kusama take up a theme shared by slasher films and teenage comedies — that queasy, panicky fascination with female sexuality that we all know and sublimate — and turn it inside out. This is not a simple reversal of perspective; “Jennifer’s Body” goes further, taking the complication and confusion of being a young woman as its central problem and operating principle. (Ibid.)
In this movie, hell is actually two girls, embroiled in the fiendish complexity of a deep female friendship. The fact that one of them is a boy-eating demon is, believe it or not, secondary.
(“Jennifer’s Body: Megan Fox Is a Man Eater.” 18 September 2009. Pols, Mary. Time.)
Female empowerment would have been the obvious message here, with Jennifer’s bloody appetites stemming from a take-back-the-night scenario gone terribly awry, so it was a pleasure to see Cody and Kusama delving instead into the frequently disempowering effect of female friendships. (Ibid.)
As a comic allegory of what it’s like to be an adolescent girl who comes into sexual and social power that she doesn’t know what the heck to do with, [Jennifer's Body] is a minor classic.
(“Horror-comedy with feminist bite.” 18 September 2009. Rickey, Carrie. The Philadelphia Inquirer.)
“There is within Diablo Cody the soul of an artist, and her screenplay brings to this material a certain edge, a kind of gleeful relish, that’s uncompromising. This isn’t your assembly-line teen horror thriller. The portraits of Jennifer and Needy are a little too knowing.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
Kusama and Cody’s collaboration is a wicked black comedy with unexpected emotional resonance, one of the most purely pleasurable movies of the year so far.
To quote Courtney Love (whose song “Jennifer’s Body” gave the movie its title and whose music plays over the closing credits), Jennifer Check is the girl with the most cake.
(“Jennifer’s Body: One of the most purely pleasurable movies of the year so far.” 17 September 2009. Stevens, Dana. Slate.)
“At least nobody’s falling in love with a brooding hunk of an eyeliner-wearing vampire in this movie. Come to think of it, I’d like to see Jennifer get transferred to that Twilight high school and shake things up.” — Richard Roeper. (I never thought I’d agree with him on anything, but holy cannoli, Richard Roeper. Have mercy! A quote like that gets a gal hummin’: I may yet have your stupid, studio-ass-kissing baby, after all.)
Megan Fox, whose previous roles called on little more than her ability to successfully straddle a motorcycle, nails this tricky role. She does more than look sensational—she shows us what it feels like to be a sensational-looking young woman and to wield that as your only power. Fox seems to understand the key gambit of Cody’s script: Her character is less a teenage girl turned monster than an exploration of the monster that lurks inside every teenage girl.
The negative early reviews with which “Jennifer’s Body” has been greeted are puzzling. Critics seem irked that the picture’s not a full-on horror film or a straight teen comedy or a familiar satirical combination of the two. But the movie has other intentions: It’s really about the social horrors of high school for adolescent girls.
The picture has a tone — smart and slashingly sarcastic — that’s all its own. It’s actually kind of brilliant.
(“Jennifer’s Body: Girl Trouble” 18 September 2009. By fucking KURT LODER. MTV.com)
Needy: You know what? You were never really a good friend. Even when we were little, you used to steal my toys and pour lemonade on my bed!
Jennifer: And now I’m eating your boyfriend. See? At least I’m consistent.
Needy: Why do you need him? You can have anybody that you want, Jennifer. So why Chip? Just to tick me off? or is it because you’re just really that insecure?
Jennifer: I am not “insecure,” Needy. God! Wh–? That’s a joke! How could I ever be insecure? I was the Snowflake Queen!
Needy: Pffft. Yeah. Two years ago — when you were socially relevant —
Jennifer: (draws in breath) I … am … still … socially relevant.
Needy: — and when you didn’t need laxatives to stay skinny.
Jennifer: (full monster morph time)
Man. Frenemies always know the right buttons to push, amirite?
I think Needy’s relationship with Chip was really, really threatening to Jennifer. I think it is why Jennifer claimed to need to find talent outside of Devil Kettle and why she fixated on that Nikolai tool to begin with — she wanted Needy’s attention back, and she needed to create drama to get it, by going for a guy she knew her friend would have qualms about. She thought Needy would be jealous and want to ride to her rescue. Except it backfired because not only could Needy see through the so-called punk’s ridiculously fake exterior and the desperate, shallow need for everyone’s adulation that was his true inner core, but Jennifer’s pursuit of him exposed the same hollow innards in herself. That’s my take on what tipped the action in to play. Seaquest out. Back to the pros.
Not since Brian De Palma’s Carrie has a horror movie so effectively exploited the genre as a metaphor for adolescent angst, female sexuality and the strange, sometimes corrosive bonds between girls who claim to be best friends.
(Jennifer’s Body.” Rodriguez, Rene. 18 September 2009. Miami Herald.)
Most stills courtesy of One Movie, One Day on the tumblr. Thank you so, so much for all your awesome, superfly screencaps!