Welcome to "Dead Too Soon", a column exploring horror films that deserved a sequel and maybe still do...
...“I’m kind of the shit.”
Thus begins the groundbreaking yet unceremoniously sacrificed film Jennifer’s Body from director Karyn Kusama (The Invitation) and writer Diablo Cody, nailed to the cross by angry fanboys and Michael Bay defenders, and yes, I am still pissed off about it. Like Needy (Amanda Seyfried), Jennifer’s Body is 100%, Grade A “the shit,” and it didn’t deserve that. The film recently celebrated its anniversary, and with that came all of those old wounds opening up again.
But it also got me thinking…it may finally be time for a sequel. A second chance for Jennifer (Megan Fox).
Jennifer’s Body first opened in what feels like a lifetime ago, 2009, and told a story about two teenage girls dealing with their feelings for each other under the judgmental lens of high-school society while one of them is also becoming a demon after being murdered by a “salty” boy band and craving the hearts of boys. Eat your heart out boys…literally. The sad thing is, even in 2009, audiences weren’t ready for that, to put it nicely. To say that America is so repressed we don’t just have a stick up our asses but we are the stick would be more accurate. A teenage queer love story with strong, confident women killing boys attempting to objectify them or mansplain their own relationship to them? Jennifer’s Body was too hot to handle for Americans just eleven years ago.
Some audiences couldn’t digest Jennifer’s “tell it like it is” attitude or the “sandbox love” that never dies between Jennifer and Needy. The dismissal of Jennifer’s Body is such a shame because not only is the film a highly entertaining possession/demon film with a phenomenal cast and whip-smart dialogue snappy enough to make your shirt pop open, but it’s a necessary story for young female and LGBTQ+ teens. How many LGBTQ+ horror films geared towards female-identifying teenagers can you list off the top of your head? Don’t go shouting them all at once, now. The fact of the matter is, there isn’t, and there needs to be.
As the film wraps, we learn that Needy is in an asylum after killing Jennifer and of course appearing batshit insane to the misunderstanding world. She’s also been bitten by best-friend turned demonic boy-stealer Jennifer, and is now herself a demon. Our final images see Needy rampaging through the eye-liner drenched, Blink 182 wannabe boy band, leaving a bloody mess behind…propping the door wide open for a continuation.
And honestly? It’s not all that unreasonable. Yes, the film was straight up burned at the stake at the box office. Yes, it was ripped to shreds by ravenous Fox haters and a crowd of prepubescent boys that either didn’t connect with it or didn’t want to. But you know what’s changed since 2009? Everything. The once quiet following of Jennifer’s Body has gone from a whisper to a scream, pouring out love for the film the way Needy receives mounds of fan letters. To the point where talented writers like Jordan Crucchiola are hosting Jennifer’s Body seminars. Those who didn’t appreciate it at first, such as myself (I know, I know), have gone back for another look and uncovered a sparkly gem. And most importantly maybe, many more have begun to understand the hateful campaign that was led against Megan Fox to destroy her career (and this film) because of her comments about being taken advantage of in the industry, and a lot more have begun to see Fox for the talented actress she is.
But why a sequel, you’re probably either rolling your eyes at or reading with that Jack Nicholson nod of approval, depending on where you fall with the Jennifer’s Body debate, and I’m so glad you asked let me tell you!
The original already laid the groundwork. Throughout the finale, we see Jennifer get speared like a fancy party appetizer, and then stabbed in the heart by Needy. But are you really going to tell me that a freaky deaky demon that heals like Wolverine, vomits living blood and that can “hover” like a champ is really going to be stopped by a papercut to the heart?
Come on. Come on.
It isn’t just possible that Jennifer is still alive and ready for a comeback. It’s extremely likely.
Amanda Seyfried is still a big star. Director Karyn Kusama has proven to be a phenomenal filmmaker. Writer Diablo Cody is still out there doing wonderful work. More important than all of that though, Megan Fox has just hit the tip of an iceberg for what will hopefully be a major return to the screen, starring in a slew of already released or upcoming horror flicks. Maybe Fox would sooner forget Jennifer’s Body than return. I wouldn’t blame her. But if she did return, a sequel to Jennifer’s Body wouldn’t just encourage a new generation to go back and check out the original, it would be the perfect mark of revival for Fox. Both she and Jennifer were unfairly dismissed, attached to each other forever that way, and both she and Jennifer deserve to rise from the “grave” with a giant middle finger to everyone who tore them down in a furious whirlwind of blood and glitter.
With women finding more respect both in front of and behind the camera and the calls for more LGBTQ+ horror and horror that speaks to a younger generation of female-identifying fans in general growing, Jennifer’s Body is the perfect candidate to rise from the ashes like the burned down but not forgotten, beautiful film phoenix it is.
Jennifer’s Body wasn’t given a chance when it came out. It should’ve been a hit. Thankfully, in the 10+ years since its release, fans have made themselves heard in how much this film mattered to them, and still does. We sometimes forget that about horror films. We dismiss the films others love, or worse, berate them for it, but we hardly ever stop to consider just how influential some of these films are for each other. For every horror fan, horror films are a way to deal with real-life experiences, and show us that we can conquer our fears. Jennifer’s Body provided an outlet for multiple groups in horror that hardly see themselves represented on screen to the degree that they should be, and a sequel could do that and more for this generation, which has found itself in such unimaginable turmoil.
Jennifer’s Body was unfairly “crossed out”, as Jennifer would say. It’s time Jennifer was given another chance to roar for an entire generation.
By Matt Konopka