In the end, sorry to say, Jennifer’s Body is forgettable. Because it’s actually charming in many ways. It’s a tale about a demon- possessed high school girl and her best friend. The possessed is Jennifer, a popular high school hottie, and a real boy eater-upper. The best friend is the descriptively named Needy, a dowdy, innocent girl content to ride Jennifer’s coattails into fun, adult situations. But remember, these aren’t adults. It’s made abundantly clear that these girls are merely in high school and only just coming to understand the power of their feminine bodies.
When the girls head out to a local bar to check out an indie rock band from the sophisticated city, it’s the beginning of a nightmare for them both. An electrical fire sets the bar aflame, and as it burns to the ground, the smarmy lead singer invites Jennifer to take a ride in the band’s van. Needy pleads with her not to go, but Jennifer is grown up, and desires to leave girlish regulations behind.
The movie is layered with metaphor. It’s pretty clear that the fateful ride in the band van is a metaphor for sexual trauma which is itself used as a metaphor for the destruction of innocence that comes from trying to grow up too fast. Jennifer gets in the van and soon discovers they have a plan in mind for her that is far worse than a regrettable night of drunken debauchery. They bring her to a spring in the town that, according to popular wisdom, may or may not be a portal to Hell. Once there they tie her up and, thinking her a virgin, they sacrifice her to Satan in exchange for worldly success. Which is quite clever, really, treating struggling indie rock groups as the morally corrupt modern day Man at the Crossroads.
Jennifer is not a virgin, however, and per rules of the occult, an impure sacrifice to the devil will arise again to eat of the flesh of the living. Her cut of choice is high school boys. One after another she seduces them, only to bare her teeth and devour them for the act of consummation. She keeps making appearances to Needy, covered in blood and acting generally possessed. Needy watches these alarming changes in her friend, in and out of school, and keeps giving her the benefit of the doubt, always trying to understand and never putting two and two together. This overlooked bit of logic is the most bizarre part of the movie. More than once she sees Jennifer covered in blood and acting like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, and yet she doesn’t appear to make the connection between her friend and the murders (the aftermath of which look like “lasagna with teeth”) in this very small town. It’s not clear if this is the fault of the writer, the director, or both.