Jennifer’s Frame: Misunderstood cult horror movie turns 10

By | September 21, 2019
Still image from 2009 film Jennifer's Body.
Enlarge / Megan Fox starred within the 2009 movie Jennifer’s Frame. It underperformed on the field place of work, however has since develop into a horror cult vintage.

20th Century Fox

Usually, after we call to mind cult vintage motion pictures and TV sequence that get a 2d hire on existence by means of VHS, DVD, or streaming, we call to mind a nerd’s membership of most commonly boys: Blade Runner, Place of work House, Freaks and Geeks, and so forth. There are patently exceptions, and this weekend marks probably the most the most productive ones within the horror house: the 10th anniversary of the criminally misunderstood Jennifer’s Body.

This 2009 darkish comedy, penned via Diablo Cody and starring Megan Fox, has induced a variety of fond memories from forged and workforce, in addition to a number of sparkling tributes. That is rather a shift from the movie’s debut, when Jennifer’s Frame gained decidedly combined critiques and underperformed on the field place of work. Depend me amongst those that have lengthy favored this well subversive, multi-layered horror/fairy story about poisonous feminine friendship.

(Primary spoilers for the movie beneath, as a result of it is been 10 years, folks.)

Anita “Needy” Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) is a shy, nerdy “great woman” within the small the city of Satan’s Kettle. Her highest buddy since youth is inexplicably the pretty cheerleader Jennifer Test (Megan Fox). “Imply woman” Jennifer drags Needy to an area bar dive bar one evening to look an indie band referred to as Low Shoulder; she has designs at the lead singer, Nikolai (Adam Brody). After a hearth destroys the membership and lots of of its buyers, Jennifer (nonetheless in surprise) numbly is of the same opinion to power off with the band of their van, in opposition to Needy’s protests.

When Jennifer presentations up at Needy’s space hours later, she is roofed in blood and vomits a black fluid over the kitchen flooring, earlier than working out into the evening.

Day after today, Jennifer turns out like her standard egocentric, callous self. However quickly highschool boys get started appearing up ripped to shreds and in part gobbled. Jennifer has develop into a succubus who will have to devour human flesh to feed the demon inside of, due to a Satanic ritual long past mistaken. (Low Shoulder had to sacrifice a virgin in alternate for reputation and fortune, and, smartly, Jennifer hasn’t been a virgin since junior prime.) Needy will have to face the truth that her highest buddy is a monster, and it is as much as her to take Jennifer down earlier than she chows down on extra boys—like Needy’s personal boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons).

So a lot more is occurring in Jennifer’s Frame than its fundamental premise may counsel. Screenwriter Cody intentionally got down to make a horror movie that venerated the conventions whilst upending them in attention-grabbing techniques. She began with the nature of Jennifer, who would most often be the doomed “First Girl” for your moderate slasher movie: stunning, bitchy, promiscuous, and flushed with the facility she thinks her sexuality confers.

She is victimized, due to the participants of Low Shoulder, who brutally stab her to dying within the woods whilst making a song “867-5309/Jenny.” The twist is that she does not keep lifeless, the usage of those self same seductive wiles to trap unsuspecting younger males to their ugly deaths—none of whom, it will have to be stated, actually deserve that destiny.

Needy could also be an strange Ultimate Lady. Scream reminded us all concerning the significance of virginity if a tender girl is to continue to exist a slasher movie, however Needy and Chip have a standard, wholesome sexual courting, in order that send has lengthy since sailed. The script’s humor is refined and muted, and the teenager slang has a nastier edge in comparison to many different comedian horror motion pictures.

Whilst we get the needful soar scares and gore galore, the movie’s highest moments most often happen within the quiet interludes in between: the sweetly awkward intercourse scene between Chip and Needy, for example, or the impassioned graveside rant via the grief-stricken mom of one among Jennifer’s sufferers—to not point out the movie’s artful use of the finishing credit to ship one ultimate twist.

Jennifer’s Frame premiered on the Toronto Movie Pageant in 2009 and hit North American theaters on September 18 that very same yr. Alas, important critiques had been combined, and audiences did not flock to theaters in just about the numbers the studio had was hoping for. The movie grossed about $31.five million international in opposition to a $16 million finances—now not a complete field place of work bomb, however rarely a breakout hit. That ended in an excessive amount of handwringing over what had long past so mistaken.

All of the components for good fortune had been there, together with a significant big name on the top of her sex-symbol reputation and an Oscar-winning author penning the script. Was once it as a result of Megan Fox could not open a film? (It is hands-down Fox’s highest efficiency.) Was once it since the movie used to be advertised to teenagers but rated “R”? Or used to be it only a unhealthy field place of work weekend general? (The #1 movie that weekend used to be Cloudy With a Probability of Meatballs, with round $30 million.)

Unquestionably, the promoting used to be tonally at odds with the movie from the get-go. Cody has lamented that the studio particularly centered boys who had been fanatics of Fox on account of the primary two Transformer motion pictures, when she had supposed it to attraction simply as a lot to women. Cody has a legitimate level, judging via the unique trailer:

Authentic trailer for Jennifer’s Frame.

The film’s poster, that includes a tarted-up Fox in a schoolgirl’s uniform, perched at the trainer’s table with the phrases “Hell sure!” scrawled at the chalkboard, did not lend a hand issues. The trailer and poster made the movie appear to be simply any other teenager slasher B-movie, with the stereotypical highschool sizzling woman as a murderous monster focused on sexy teenaged boys, plus just a little of girl-on-girl motion for some further gratuitous titillation. There may be not one of the sly humor and sharp discussion that makes Jennifer’s Frame this type of nerdilicious pride, and there’s no indication of simply how smartly the movie handles the serious and complex courting between Jennifer and Needy.

Even in the beginning of the movie, they border on “frenemies,” calling each and every different “Monistat” and “Vagisil.” When Needy playfully punches Jennifer’s arm for creating a crude sexual comic story, Jennifer responds via shoving Needy violently right into a wall—a touch of items to come back. We additionally get a way of why Jennifer hangs out with Needy, who’s lovely however now not such a lot that she is going to ever upstage Jennifer. Needy, in fact, idolizes her glamorous buddy, however there may be additionally a touch of fear each time Jennifer mentions Chip.

Chip is the only factor Needy has that Jennifer does not, and that simmering rigidity and competitiveness boils to the skin after Jennifer’s transformation. She goals emo-Goth man Colin (Kyle Gallner) only as a result of Needy thinks he is cool, and it is only a question of time earlier than she is going after Chip. That is after we see how empty and insecure Jennifer—the woman at the back of the monster—actually is, challenging Chip inform her she’s higher than Needy after they kiss. It provides but any other measurement to the ladies’ twisted courting. As for that notorious same-sex kiss in Needy’s bed room, how it performs out in context is a ways much less gratuitous than the trailer makes it appear.

Endurance and time

Sooner or later during the last 10 years, folks started rediscovering Jennifer’s Frame by means of DVD/Blu-Ray and streaming products and services. And the narrative surrounding the movie slowly began to shift; it is now being touted as an iconic feminist horror cult vintage. (Fox additionally starred within the 2010 important and field place of work failure, Jonah Hex, in response to the DC Comics antihero, which didn’t enjoy the similar redemptive arc—most probably as a result of this can be a truly unhealthy film.)

I may quibble with those that interpret Jennifer’s Frame as a straight-up #MeToo generation revenge delusion about feminine empowerment, since Needy and Jennifer’s friendship is obviously the main driving force and the facility dynamics are continuously moving between them. And except for the evil band participants, male characters are handled sympathetically. However it is very a lot a pondering individual’s horror movie, and I am happy that extra other folks are beginning to admire simply how twisted and artful Jennifer’s Frame in fact is.

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