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Editorials

Was It Really That Bad? Jennifer’s Body

November 1, 2019
Jennifer's Body

I know that the theme of this series is to look at films that maybe aren’t quite as bad as people think but I have to say – I love this film. It’s not “so bad it’s good” it’s not a “guilty pleasure” and there is no “ironic appreciation” going on here. This was the film Diablo Cody wrote after Juno and was directed by Karyn Kusama who went on to direct The Invitation and Destroyer, so there was a talented team behind the film so why does it have such a bad reputation?

“No, I mean she’s actually evil, not high school evil.”

Jennifer’s Body starred Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox, the latter playing the eponymous Jennifer. This is the plot – an unsuccessful indie band decide to sacrifice a virgin to get in with the Devil and therefore help their career. Unfortunately, their sacrifice, Jennifer, isn’t a virgin, meaning that she doesn’t die but becomes a demon. Using her position as the pretty and popular girl in school she lures other high school students to their death, where she eats them. Jennifer’s best friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried), works this out and confronts her best friend.

“Hell is a teenage girl”

The demonic Jennifer ( source: vice.com)

Jennifer’s Body IMDb score is a lowly 5.2, Rotten Tomatoes critic score 44% and the audience score 34%. The audience score is particularly damning as sometimes films which critics hate are redeemed by an audience who “gets” it, but seemingly very few got it. This IMDb rating is worse than the Jennifer Aniston vehicle Bounty Hunter, arcade-mashup catastrophe Pixels and the Vin Diesel bodyguard/babysitting film The Pacifier all scoring 5.6. Reviews were mixed at best, with comments like “Jennifer’s Body comes across as a tame, derivative vehicle for the girl from the Transformers franchise” and “is never scary and it’s only sporadically amusing” . Many of the reviews compare it unfavourably to Juno, which while frustrating, is not unusual for a follow-up to such a hit.

But despite the critical mauling and audience rejection I love this film and recognise it as the true overlooked cult classic it is. First of all, the script is largely great, I love Diablo Cody’s dialogue in everything of hers I’ve seen and it is endlessly quotable. Next, the horror, I think this film has genuine moments of horror, from recently turned Jennifer arriving at Needy’s house and throwing up the most disgusting stuff imaginable to Jennifer pooling the blood of her victim’s in her hands so it is easier to drink. Most importantly of all is the relationship between Jennifer and Needy – it is incredibly relatable. If you’ve never had a friend in school who didn’t always treat you well but you remained friend’s with because you’ve always been friends with them — this film is for you. Jennifer consistently tries to put Needy in her place and even in moments of full-on horror and danger the problems in their relationship are laid bare. As well as the horror of demons there is the very real horror of being a teenager and it is this collision of worlds of horror and high school film that is the best thing about it.

“God, do you have to undermine everything I do? You are such a player hater.”

Every high school film needs a prom (source: IMDb.com)

One reason I give for the poor reviews is the presence of Megan Fox and the connotations she brought with her. This was absolutely unfair as every film, and every actor’s performance should be judged individually and critics who thought that because Fox was going to be in this film it was going to bed bad, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. That said, I was such a person and it was only later after having heard people discuss the film in detail that I decided to watch it.

“I am still socially relevant.”

Was Jennifer’s Body really that bad? No. I think it’s a great film and hopefully will become a cult classic.

Also Read: Was It Really That Bad? The Mummy (2017)

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Richard Norton
Gentleman, podcaster and pop culture nerd, I love talking and writing about pretty much all pop culture.