Even Megan Fox Thinks We Slept on Cheerleader Slasher Flick, 'Jennifer's Body'
Well, folks, it seems yet another celebrity has begun openly vouching for the renewed praise of Jennifer's Body, the once panned slasher movie turned LGBTQAI+ horror masterpiece, none other than the demon cheerleader that started it all, Jennifer herself, Megan Fox. Amid the press tour for her new horror film, Till Death, Fox's first venture into the genre since starring in the classic 2009 film, Fox has spoken candidly about the renewed legacy of Jennifer's Body, and her passion for the project, even dubbing it her "favorite movie I've ever done by far."
“I've been looking for something like that ever since,” Fox told InStyle magazine in a video posted on their YouTube channel. “It's just one of those things, it's like a one of a kind I don't know if I'll ever come across something like that.”
Fox isn't entirely off in her assertion – starring in a movie like Jennifer's Body was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity considering the film's groundbreaking perspective. A bold, feminine subversion of a historically male-dominated genre, the gloriously campy slasher flick had all the makings of a critical and box office hit, featuring it-girl Fox and Mama Mia's Amanda Seyfried, a witty script penned by Diablo Cody, fresh off of nabbing the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for her work on 2007's indie smash, Juno, and a soundtrack featuring some of the hottest bands of the late aughts. So what went wrong?
To put it bluntly, the film's promotional team f---ed up. Evidently struggling with how to effectively market such an unapologetically bisexual and feminine take on horror, the film's advertising team took the easy way out, touting the movie as a hyper-sexual horror/porno hybrid with one simple thesis – Megan Fox is hot. Featuring a poster depicting the actress sitting atop a desk alone while sporting a sexy school uniform and high heels, and a trailer best described as a highlight reel of the flick's straightest erotic moments – the actress swimming nude in a lake, unzipping her hoodie, and seducing several people – nearly all of the film's marketing materials were centered around Fox's undeniable sensuality in a means specifically catering to the male gaze. Unfortunately, highlighting Fox's sex appeal while squandering the work's defining features – its humor, wit, and bold exploration of sexuality and friendship -- ultimately backfired. Jennifer's Body was a critical failure, earning a 45% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and banking a mere $2.8 million on its opening day.
“I think the men [the studio] tried to market to were confused,” the actress told InStyle of this phenomenon. Considering these marketing tactics, Fox says she was particularly nervous about how her kiss with Seyfried's character, Needy, could be misinterpreted if targeted towards straight men rather than its intended audience – women and members of the LGBTQAI+ community discovering their sexuality. "That was a real thing that goes on with teenage girls that are discovering their sexuality, and sometimes that's discovering that they love other girls," said Fox, who is openly bisexual. "It's not like that [kissing] scene was even particularly sexual for men. It was more so for any woman who's ever thought, 'I really love my best friend, and I don't necessarily know what that means, but I'm going to figure it out.'"
Despite the lingering impact of its bad, arguably misogynistic marketing campaign, Jennifer's Body has recently begun to receive the critical and popular recognition it deserves. In the late 20-teens, just shy of the movie's 10 year anniversary, film publications largely began changing their tune surrounding the controversial film, a shift likely due in part to shifting acceptance of the LGBTQAI+ community and the #MeToo movement.
“It’s become a case study in what we value in movies and what we dismiss, and how those values can shift over the course of a decade,” Vox wrote a few years back, dubbing the film a “forgotten feminist classic," adding that what made the movie an “easy-to-hate flop in 2009” is exactly "what makes it a beloved cult classic in the making in 2018.”
"I’m sure that if the film opened today, it would be a sleeper hit,” wrote Horror Geek Life earlier that year. “As it is, one day they’ll be teaching it at the intersections of cinema studies, film theory, and women’s studies.”
However, to Fox, the renewed interest in the film has grown beyond merely obtaining a cult status, growing into a truly iconic piece of feminine cinema. “It like failed at the time but has grown this like huge – maybe not even a cult following because it's so popular now,” she said. "Every Halloween, I see people dressed as Jennifer Check, my oldest son dresses as Jennifer Check even though he doesn't know what that means yet. All he knows is I'm like a zombie cheerleader and he's obsessed. It's like over a decade later and people are like ‘that was a f---- good movie,’ and it was.”
Yet aside from the film's newfound acclaim, Fox says the most “rewarding” part of the movie's renewed popularity is understanding how the work has served as a touchstone in helping members of the LGBTQAI+ community understand their identities. “It's constant. A girl will come up to me and be like ‘you had a lot to do with me like identifying and understanding that I was gay or understanding that I was bisexual' and that is, of course, by far, like, the most moving, rewarding thing that I have experienced in my life, to be a part of something that helped people figure that out or helped people deal with that or feel better about that," Fox explained.
Considering its recent resurgence, Fox says she hopes the legacy of Jennifer's Body will turn into something more tangible in the future, recently telling the Washington Post that she'd be open to reprising her iconic role in a spin-off of the iconic film. “I don’t think it’s a hard movie to make a sequel to,” Fox told the newspaper. “I mean, they should make it into a TV series. That would be cool.”