So, what do you get when you mix the hottest writer in Hollywood and the Hottest woman in the world at the time? You get Jennifer’s Body: an oddball teen horror comedy that was inspired by the humor of the Evil Dead films but brings more to mind a less intelligent Mean Girls.
Written by Oscar winning writer Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama, who directed Aeon Flux, Jennifer’s Body is a demonic possession teen comedy about a teenage girl named Jennifer Check, played by Megan Fox, who ends up being possessed by a succubus demon after being sacrificed by an Indie rock band. I’m not even kidding, that is the main plot of this film. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning; the film begins with our main character and narrator, “Needy”, played by Amanda Seyfried, at a mental institution. After assaulting a doctor and being thrown into solitary confinement, she gives us the backstory of how she ended up there. Jennifer, the most popular girl in school and captain of the Flag team, Needy’s best friend. Although most people were confused as to why she’d want to associate with nerdy Needy, she and Jennifer have been friends since they were small kids and have a bond that is stronger than high school politics. In reality, the reason Jennifer is friends with Needy is because she’s a complete pushover that she can control and boss around. I say this because, after a pep rally, Jennifer tells Needy they’re going to see her favorite indie rock band (Low Shoulder) play at the town’s local bar. Needy says she has plans with her boyfriend Chip but Jennifer basically guilts her into saying yes. You see, any other teen with a backbone would have said “I’m sorry but I have plans. Rain check though!” But no, Jennifer gives her a pouty face and Needy immediately changes her plans.
They go to the town’s only bar called Melody Lane. While there, they run into a football player who tries and fails to hit on Jennifer, an exchange student named Ahmed and a police cadet, played by Chris Pratt. Apparently Jennifer is sleeping with him. Low Shoulder comes out to get set-up for their show and Jennifer takes it upon herself to introduce herself and Needy to them. The lead singer Nikolai, played by Adam Brody, seems very charmed by her and agrees to let her buy him a drink. Jennifer goes over to the bar to get the drinks and Needy kind of hangs back near a pinball machine. While she’s waiting on Jennifer she overhears Nikolai talking to his bassist about how Jennifer is perfect because she’s a virgin; the bassist disagrees. Needy, ever the good friend, glides over and confirms, falsely, that Jennifer is indeed a virgin and she would never sleep with someone like him. Nikolai and the bassist smile evilly at each other and continue to prep for their show. Jennifer comes back with two shots and Needy says the guys are creeps and they’re only interested in her because they think she’s a virgin. She confirms what we’d all think when we see a girl like that and informs Needy that she’s not even a “backdoor virgin”, classy. The reason why I’m describing this particular scene in detail is because it’s a major plot point that comes into play a bit later in the story so keep this scene in mind. The band begins to play and it’s like Jennifer is mesmerized by them. Their song is called “Through the Trees” and it’s bland indie-emo dreck.
In the middle of their song a fire starts and Needy is the first one to spot it. Instead of screaming “Fire!” she decides to watch the flames grow, overtake the rafters and eventually make its way to the bar. Once the bartender finally sees the flames, a burnt flag comes down on a couple’s table and everyone finally sees the flames. The band just stares at the flames and Needy finally snaps out of her daze and grabs Jennifer. They escape through the bathroom window and see the fiery carnage left behind. While Needy is trying to get Jennifer out of her current state of shock, Nikolai comes up and tries to lure both of them into his van with his band. Needy says no but Jennifer, still in shock, agrees and goes with them. Needy then goes home and calls her boyfriend Chip to explain everything that happened. Chip, being the only sensible one, asks her if she got the make and model of the van and she says no and begins to really panic. Needy then hears some weird sounds coming from downstairs and goes to check it out. She looks around and sees nothing so she gets off the phone with Chip. She then hears something coming from the kitchen so she checks it out. It turns out it’s just the faucet leaking so she turns it off and when she turns around Jennifer is there. She’s a bloody mess with dirt and blood all over her. She gives Needy an evil smile and starts chowing down on a chicken she pulls from the fridge. When Needy tries to talk to her she lets out a demonic roar and vomits out some kind of black, prickly liquid.
The next day at school everyone is talking about the fire and Needy is freaking out about what she had seen the night before. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Jennifer comes up to her looking completely normal. Needy comments that she saw her disappear with the guys from Low Shoulder and she looked pretty rough when she showed up at her house. Jennifer says she has no idea what she’s talking about. Needy, thinking that she’s going crazy flashes back to the night before. Later we see Jennifer hitting on a football player named Jonas, who is mourning for his friend Craig who died in the fire. Jennifer says that she talked to his friend that night and he said they’d make a cute couple. Falling for this, Jonas follows Jennifer into the woods where they begin making out. As they do, he notices all of the animals in the area are staring at them. When he realizes that this is indeed weird, Jennifer rips his shirt off, bears some pretty demonic looking teeth and devours him. A teacher overhears the screams and goes to investigate; he then finds Jonas’s deformed body and then we see Jennifer swimming naked in the lake; washing the massive amount of blood that stained her skin, but not her clothes apparently as we see them clean as a whistle in the next scene when she gets out of the water.
Later that night Needy gets a call from Jennifer who proceeds to talk about herself, which is of no surprise but with one addition; she burns her tongue with a lighter and not only do the flames not hurt her but the flesh on her tongue grows back immediately. While this happens, Needy also gets a call from Chip who tells her to come over. At Chip’s house, he explains that the police are next door investigating the murder of Jonas. Later on we get a montage of what’s happened in the town since the deaths of those caught in the bar fire and Jonas. In almost no time at all, everyone’s pretty much getting over it. Later we see Needy and Jennifer in class, who is looking pretty worse for wear actually. Their teacher informs the class that Low Shoulder is holding a charity fundraiser for their song, Through the Trees, and will donate 3% of all the profits they make from it to the town. Needy appropriately calls bullshit on this as 3% is pretty shitty to donate to a town whose only bar was burnt to the ground during their concert. During this scene we also learn that rumors have surfaced that the Band actually saved people that night by pulling them out of the smoldering bar, which we know to be false. After this a goth kid named Colin Gray hits on Jennifer and asks her out. She first says no but, after Needy comments that she thinks Colin’s a pretty cool guy, Jennifer agrees to go out with him and invites him over to her place. This is a very important scene because we see that Jennifer is one of those girls who just likes to take things from their “so called friends”. After this, we see Needy over at Chip’s house where they plan on losing their virginities together. This is a subplot that comes in at a very weird time but hey, this is a teen horror flick.
While Chip and Needy are together, we see Colin is heading over to Jennifer’s for their date. When he gets there he ends up at a suburb still under construction and he spots a light shining in the window of the house at the end of the block. He sneaks into the house and finds a room filled with lit candles and a boombox playing music. Jennifer pops out of nowhere and begins to seduce Colin. At first he’s kind of reluctant but his teenage hormones kick in and he basically says what the hell. Back over to Needy she and Chip are in full swing but something strange comes over Needy. We see that this is because Jennifer is literally eating Colin alive. We get a kind of disturbing back and forth between Chip and Needy having sex and Jennifer tearing Colin limb from limb. While this happens, Needy hallucinates blood dripping from the ceiling and she freaks out. As she drives back home, she ends up running into what looked like a blood soaked Jennifer trying to cross the street. When Needy arrives home, she looks around for her mother but she is not there. Needy falls asleep on the living room couch and has a dream about she and Jennifer playing in the sandbox when they are kids. She then awakens and decides to go to bed in her room. Once she slips into her bed, Jennifer pops out and surprises her. Yes, it looks like Jennifer intricately planned to sneak into Needy’s bed, somehow knowing she’d sleep downstairs for a bit so she had time to wash the blood off of herself and get into Needy’s clothes, then come upstairs so she could freak her out. Wow, that’s… lucky?
Needy, rightfully, yells at Jennifer to get out but she ends up seducing Needy and they start kissing. I have so many questions about this scene but I’ll hold off until later. While Needy is “hypnotized”, I guess, by Jennifer’s sexuality she somehow snaps out of it and appropriately asks “what the fuck is happening?”. In this scene, we learn just what happened to Jennifer the night of the fire. After taking off with the guys from Low Shoulder, she begins to regret her decision but she realizes it’s too late. One of the band members questions Nikolai and asks if she really is a virgin. Thinking it will save her life, she lies and says that she is a virgin. This only fills the guys with glee as they continue to drive. They go deep into the woods adjacent to the town’s big waterfall with a hole where nothing resurfaces. Once they arrive, Jennifer tries to escape but they catch her, tie her up and lay her atop a wooden stump. Nikolai begins to read a satanic passage and Jennifer makes a last ditch effort to save her life. Nikolai then explains, and I’m kind of paraphrasing here, that they plan to sacrifice a virgin to the devil in order to make them famous. According to Nikolai, and let’s be honest here he’s absolutely right, it’s very hard for indie rock bands to get famous as there are thousands of them and unless they demean themself by getting on some stupid soundtrack then they’ll be completely overlooked. The scary thing about his whole monologue is that he wholeheartedly believes Satan is their only hope. He then pulls out a bowie knife, stabs Jennifer to death, or so he thought, and threw the knife in the waterfall. After the guys had left, Jennifer wakes up and makes her way to Needy’s house. But, she reveals she didn’t want to hurt her so, after leaving her house, she ran into the foreign exchange student, Ahmed, who survived the fire. Jennifer says she didn’t mean to hurt him but she was just so “hungry”. Jennifer ate him and she reveals that devouring human flesh makes her virtually indestructible. To prove this, Jennifer stabs her arm with a pencil and we see that the wound magically closes on its own. Needy reacts by saying this is too weird and tells Jennifer to leave. Jennifer attempts to seduce Needy again but it doesn’t work and she leaves.
The next day, we see Needy attending Colin’s funeral. And, I’m not gonna lie, I really do appreciate this scene. I have known several of those poser goth kids who claim to be obsessed with death and, as they make a scene at his funeral, his mother puts them in their place by saying he’s not some angel flying on flamed wings or any of that nonsense. He is going six feet under in an overpriced box and he wasn’t even 18. After the funeral, Needy does some research in the occult section of the school’s library. Why a high school would have an occult section is beyond me but let’s continue on. Chip then expresses concern about Needy as he’s focused on the school dance and she’s trying to tell him that Jennifer is evil. She then reveals to him what she thinks happened with Jennifer; since the guys in the band sacrificed an “impure” vessel a succubus demon inhabited her soul. Although the band’s “wish” basically still came true, the impure soul will remain possessed by the demon and must forever feed on flesh to sustain itself. And, as we’ve seen, Jennifer has been feeding on the flesh of boys and Needy’s worried the dance will be a smorgasbord of flesh for her. Needy tells Chip that, because of all this, she will not being going to the dance with him because “it’s not safe for them to be together”. She tries to get him to not go to the dance but he goes anyway. Before he leaves his house, chip’s mother gives him some women’s pepper spray in a scene that makes kind of no sense but reaffirms the parents know there’s a killer in the town.
As Chip walks to the dance, a ghostly Jennifer stalks him. She approaches Chip and tells him that Needy and Colin were sleeping together. We then see the band “Low Shoulder” playing at the school dance, as they have “generously” halted their nation-wide tour to play the dance at the town where their hit single has become their unofficial anthem. Jennifer then begins to make out with Chip and Needy realizes, either through her amazing detective skills, or the unexplained link between her and Jennifer that she’s with him. Needy then goes to Chip’s house but his mother says he walked to the dance a while ago and she thought Chip was going to meet her. Later, Chip asks Jennifer if they can go somewhere private and she takes him to an old YMCA in town. While there, Jennifer tries to seduce Chip again and, when he refuses, she tries to drown him and begins to feed on him. When Needy arrives, she sees Jennifer feasting on Chip and she immediately jumps in to save him. Jennifer and Needy fight and then They exchange insults. While she is distracted, Chip impales her with a pool mop. Unfortunately, Chip dies and Needy goes home; she ends up figuring out what she needs to do to stop Jennifer. We then circle back to where this film began, Jennifer lying in bed circling boys in her yearbook and writing “yummy” on some of them. Needy promptly bursts into her window and attacks Jennifer with a box cutter. She then cuts Jennifer, she gets pissed and levitates. Needy disarms her by ripping off her BFF necklace. While distracted, Needy is able to get her to fall and she stabs Jennifer in the heart. Jennifer’s mom walks in, apparently not hearing the window break and all of the yelling that took place but, whatever. And this is how Needy got put in the mental institution. Through some spot-on narration we then learn that, if a person is bit by a demon and lives, they inherit some of their powers, which includes, super strength and levitation. Needy then escapes from the mental institution and comes by a little puddle where she finds the bowie knife Nikolai threw in the waterfall. She then hitches a ride with a stranger and says she’s following a rock band and that the show she’s going to will be their last. From here, the film ends and, during the credits, we see the band’s success via “found footage” as we seem them meeting fans and doing drugs in their upscale hotel. The footage then turns into a slideshow of crime scene photos as it appears the band members were brutally murdered. At the end of it all we see the CCTV footage of groupies running to the band’s room and Needy walking out. And that’s it. That’s the end of the movie.
I have mixed feelings about this movie. When I first saw it, I recognized it as some sharp satire on the teen horror movies of the 70’s and 80’s. This may be a bit of a stretch but, if you really think about it, there was something to this statement. Now that I am watching this movie this again, years later, I don’t see it the same way. I will admit that Diablo Cody has amazing writing skills and that has come through with all of her work but I feel like a lot of the plot was lost in translation. For instance, Jennifer is supposed to be possessed by a demon but it’s never explained why sometimes she’s herself and other times, like when she threw up that black goo, she acts in a very demonic manner. I guess you could say that when she’s not well fed the demon takes over and, when she’s full, she’s back to normal; but that still doesn’t really make sense to me. Not only that, but how did she somehow gain super demon powers? I haven’t read much about the occult or demon theory but I’m assuming this is a thing but the movie never fully explains this. Another scene that made absolutely no sense to me was when Jennifer snuck into Needy’s room after killing Colin. She starts kissing Needy then they’re fully making out until Needy snaps out of it. Then, when they’re done it’s never discussed again. What the hell? Why did that happen. Was it Jennifer honing her demon powers by seducing Needy? Was it gratuitous fan-service? Well, let’s not kid ourselves it probably was. This scene could have made more sense if they gave us a little more background on Needy and Jennifer’s backstory and how being possessed by a demon has affected Jennifer in this way.
With all of this said, I didn’t hate this movie but it is definitely not as good as I thought it was when I first saw it. Watching this now, I don’t believe it is as smart as I thought it was and, the dialogue, once charming and unique to me, is now really annoying. Does high school student, or any human being for that fact, actually speak this way? I know this dialogue is what got Diablo Cody an Oscar but, although it worked in Juno, it definitely doesn’t work here. Although I’m not as fond of this film now, I still suggest you give it a watch. It’s funny, in parts, and it’s interesting to see how the small town teen horror genre is played out.