If the scene seems a little tonally confusing from that description, that's because Jennifer's Body is pretty difficult to read on the whole in that respect. The movie, released in September 2009, mixes frightening real-world scenarios -- like the title character being abducted by a group of men in their creepy van -- with the more conventional horror movie scares that ensue, once a post-sacrifice Jennifer is possessed by a demon, develops supernatural powers and starts feeding on her male classmates. And filling in the gaps between the carnage is Jennifer's darkly funny (and slang-heavy) wisecracking, about PMS being "invented by the boy-run media" and puncture wounds being "so emo."
Written by Diablo Cody, an Oscar winner for her script to the 2007 smash Juno, and directed by Karyn Kusama, filmmaker behind the acclaimed indie Girlfight -- and of course, starring Fox, then one of Hollywood's biggest young stars following her breakout in 2007's blockbuster Transformers adaptation -- the film debuted to great expectations in 2009. But its unique mix of horror, comedy and cultural commentary proved a tough sell to mainstream audiences. A marketing campaign that undercut the film's strongly female roots and messaging by focusing almost entirely on Fox's sex appeal didn't help. It drew middling reviews, and underperformed at the box office, only pulling in $16 million in the U.S.
However, ten years later, the film has emerged as a cult favorite, enduring both as a clever satire of late-'00s teen and popular culture, and as an ever-more-relevant comment on the ways young women are perpetually put through the grinder in a patriarchal society. Both of those core strengths of Jennifer's Body are particularly evident in its portrayal of the evil, misogynistic careerists in Low Shoulder.
Low Shoulder is first introduced at a local dive bar in small town Devil's Kettle, Minnesota. Jennifer has convinced her more bashful best friend Anita ("Needy," played by a bespectacled Amanda Seyfried) to come with her to see the band play -- mostly so she can meet their lead singer, the eyeliner-clad, city-dwelling Nikolai. After flirting with Nikolai, Jennifer leaves to go get drinks, and Needy overhears Nikolai arguing with bassist Dirk about whether or not Jennifer is a virgin. Needy confronts them, assuming that they're being rock sleazes, but Jennifer later accepts Nikolai's invitation to their van anyway -- and their intentions soon prove to be even more sinister.
Both Cody and Kusama say they saw themselves in Jennifer and Needy, having grown up as fanatic concertgoers and followers of bands. "I spent time kinda following The Replacements, and hanging out waiting for Soul Asylum to get back into their crappy van," Kusama recalls of being a teenage music fan in the '80s. "And definitely spent time in hotel lobbies -- when I was sorta trading up for potentially nightmarish experiences -- waiting for Guns N’ Roses."
Cody was particularly equipped to relate to Jennifer's infatuation with Nikolai. "I always had a crush on a different musician," she remembers of her early days in the suburbs of Chicago. "I would always find myself in the position of like, reluctant band girlfriend, where I was helping bring in the amps and stuff... But I would do anything for male attention at that time in my life. And I’ve always had a thing for musicians -- still do to this day -- so like, it’s a hard call to resist." (For her part, Fox tells Billboard via email that she was "very lame" as a teenager, and her obsessiveness was reserved for stalking *NSYNC in the hopes of meeting Justin Timberlake: "I think I probably would have let him sacrifice me in the woods when I was 14.")
But coming up in the '90s Chicago indie rock scene -- memorably skewered in Liz Phair's classic 1993 album Exile in Guyville -- Cody also saw the nastier side of being a young female follower of some of these bands. "You would definitely meet these guys who seemed like they were on your side, or seemed like they were emo and sensitive," she says. "And in reality, a lot of the time they were sort of garden-variety misogynists, who didn’t necessarily treat the women in their lives well."