Here’s to ten years!
It’s been ten years since the high school horror-comedy Jennifer’s Body hit theaters and while it may have never quite gotten the attention or love it deserved a decade ago, it’s since been elevated to cult classic status. After all, what’s not to love about Amanda Seyfriend and a demonically possessed Megan Fox duking it out in prom dresses? And don’t forget that insanely on-the-nose early 2000s soundtrack or Adam Brody’s pitch-perfect embodiment of the most insufferable jerk in a band to ever grace the big screen.
But there’s more to be remembered in Jennifer’s Body than just the plot and the performances. Like any horror movie worth its gore, it’s jam-packed with Easter eggs, references, and inside jokes about its genre–including everything from winks to classics of the 1980s and shout-outs to some of the actors’ biggest career hits. Sure, we may not have gone through and rounded them all up ten years ago, but better late than never, right?
And while you get into the spirit of spooky season by revisiting a ten-year-old favorite, you might also want to take the time to look into some of the newer horror offerings from streaming services like Shudder, or take a gander at everything new coming for October on services like Netflix and Hulu.
Hell is a teenage girl
The first line of dialogue comes from Needy, narrating that “hell is a teenage girl.” While the line is a Jennifer’s Body original, it’s also a nod to a major philosophical inspiration. The 1944 play No Exit by the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre famously included the line “hell is other people,” which would go on to be misquoted and misinterpreted for decades to come. While it’s easy to assume that Sartre simply meant getting along with other people is a hellish experience, what he actually meant, in his own words, was “[…] if relations with someone else are twisted, vitiated, then that other person can only be hell. Why? Because … when we think about ourselves, when we try to know ourselves … we use the knowledge of us which other people already have. We judge ourselves with the means other people have and have given us for judging ourselves.”
Pretty on the nose for a movie that strives to be about the messiest and most twisted relationships between friends, huh?
Fall Out Boy
The aforementioned extremely early 2000s soundtrack for this movie is anything but an accident. Even Jennifer’s room is decorated with some musical relics of the era, like the giant Fall Out Boy poster hanging above her bed, a pop-punk staple of 2009.
While Jennifer’s decorating tastes may skew towards the modern, Needy’s don’t. Her poster of choice is The Evil Dead, the 1981 horror classic about–surprise–a group of kids who accidentally wind up allowing their friend to get possessed by a demon. Needy also owns an Evil Dead shirt, which Jennifer winds up stealing for a bit, just to really drive that symmetry home.
It’s hard to get more iconic in the horror world than a teen girl in a blood-soaked prom dress, a fact that Jennifer’s Body is intimately aware of. Needy and Jennifer’s final fight goes out of its way to invoke Stephen King’s Carrie–even without the pig’s blood and the pyrotechnics. Jennifer even gets to make a throwaway gag about needing a tampon to stop the bleeding of her gaping stomach wound in a nod to Carrie’s mortifying locker room ordeal.
Needy’s finale–being bitten by a demon and surviving, which grants her low-level demonic abilities of her own–is an indirect nod to one of the major inspirations for Jennifer’s Body, the 2000 Canadian horror movie Ginger Snaps. Sure, Ginger Snaps was about two teenage sisters dealing with a werewolf curse and not demonic possession, but the concept remains basically the same, right down to the idea that abilities can be transferred by bite.
Not everyone in Low Shoulder is as chill with the idea of making a demonic pact for fame as their vocalist is–but that doesn’t matter, because they’re willing to go the extra mile if it means getting to be like “that guy from Maroon 5.” If you didn’t know who Adam Levine was in 2009, chances are you probably know him now, though hopefully, his solo fame didn’t come at the cost of a sacrifice.
Demonic Jennifer seduces her classmate with the promise of watching Aquamarine, a movie about a mermaid who “has sex through her blowhole or something.” That last part isn’t actually true, thank god, but the movie Aquamarine is very real–and definitely about a mermaid.
Writer Diablo Cody loves to work in a good Tony Little gag in her script. Her earlier movie, Juno, included a joke, but no on-screen appearance of the home fitness guru, while Jennifer’s Body actually seals the deal and features Jennifer watching a Tony Little infomercial on TV.
Devil’s Kettle may not be the name of an actual town, but it is the name of a real waterfall with a mysterious hole that water drains into and apparently never returns from. The real Devil’s Kettle is located in Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota.
In yet another classic horror nod, Jennifer’s Body summons the spirit of the 1989 black comedy, Heathers, about a group of murderous teenage girls, by leaning into the tropes of Jennifer’s victims. Both the tearful jock Jennifer murders and J.K. Simmons’ ambiguously midwestern amputee principal could have walked straight out of Heathers and into Devil’s Kettle.
The same way Jennifer’s Body borrows the spirit of Heathers, it also does a fantastic job of nodding to the 2004 high school comedy, Mean Girls, which also starred Amanda Seyfried. Though Seyfried’s two characters couldn’t be more diametrically opposed from one another (a popular ditz versus an outcast nerd) they both manage to hit those strangely lovable extremes high school movies do best.
If Low Shoulder weren’t already overtly evil enough for you, the fact that they start singing Tommy Tutone’s Jenny–you know, the 867-5309 song–as they murder Jennifer in the woods should probably seal the deal. Jenny, they’ve got your number, unfortunately.
Even the name Jennifer’s Body is, in and of itself, a musical reference. It comes from the 1994 alt-rock hit of the same name by the band Hole. The lyrics are extremely on-the-nose for the plot of the film: “You’re hungry, but I’m starving. He cuts you down from the tree. He keeps you in a box by the bed. Alive but just barely.”