Upon its release in September 2009, Karyn Kusama’s horror film, “Jennifer’s Body” received poor reviews from critics and returned an average amount at the box office, leaving it to fall into obscurity as another needlessly sexual horror film. However, like “The Craft” (1996) and other neglected classics, “Jennifer’s Body” gained a cult following with modern fans pointing out the highly feminist themes within the revenge flick that were overlooked during it’s release.
Although the film certainly isn’t for everyone, as the case with several cult classics, there is still much to be said about Kusama and writer Diablo Cody’s representation of empowerment and body image within this bloody narrative. “Years, after it’s release, Jennifer’s (played by Megan Fox) reign of terror, has begun to be interpreted as an act of revenge rather than a mindless tirade. In a #MeToo era, Jennifer’s experience is all too familiar.”
For those of you who don’t know, here is a quick rundown of the plot: Jennifer (played by Megan Fox), a high school cheerleader, is used without her consent as a virgin sacrifice by a local band in order to gain fame and fortune. There’s only one problem, Jennifer is not a virgin. As a result, she becomes possessed by a demon that feeds on human flesh to survive. Her main targets are the male students at her high school, leaving her childhood best friend, Needy (played by Amanda Seyfried) to save her classmates from Jennifer’s hunger.
Years after its release, Jennifer’s reign of terror has been interpreted as an act of revenge rather than a mindless, borderline sexy tirade mean’t for the male viewing experience. In this #MeToo era, Jennifer’s experience is all too familiar. The band uses Jennifer’s body without her consent for personal and professional gain, even bonding over their sadism and laughing at her fear before violently attempting to kill/sacrifice her. Her desperate need for flesh, partially the flesh of men, is a symbolic revenge as she refuses to become a victim despite the trauma inflicted onto her. This is perhaps the main reason why this film immerged as a feminist horror film years later, as many women (and men) like Jennifer have spoken up with their own stories – minus the demonic possesion of course. “Although “Jennifer’s Body” received its fair amount of complaint and criticisms during its initial release, its highlighting on issues such as the #MeToo movement and Body Image issues has allowed it to re-establish itself as a feminist-driven narrative.” Speaking of the female body, the film also makes a strong statement on the issue of self-esteem and the need to feel ‘socially relevant’. Again, these topics connect to a more modern audience thanks to the growth of social media and it’s effects on young people. This effect on Jennifer is highly dramatised as she begins to physically weaken and lose her physical beauty whenever she doesn’t feed the demon (or her insecurities) within her. It also shines a light on eating disorders and other similar body image issues as Needy reveals that Jennifer, at least human Jennifer, uses unhealthy methods such as laxatives to lessen her weight. With influencers and even celebrities pushing products such as ‘appetite-suppressing lollypops’ and ‘weight-loss tea’, “Jennifer’s Body’s” take on such issues has again allowed it to rise from the dead as a low-rating horror film to a relevant commentary on modern problems.
Although “Jennifer’s Body” has received its fair amount of complaint and criticisms during its initial release, modern movements such as the #MeToo movement has allowed it to re-establish itself as a feminist-driven narrative. The film’s initial structural flaws also seem to have aged well, since audience’s expect certain faults from a cult classic film. Overall, Karyn Kusama’s film may not have hit the mark during it’s late 2000’s release but ten years later, we welcome it with open arms as an unsual but loveable commentary on women’s issues.