This article is part of Pride Month Picks, a collection of pieces that aim to highlight queer representation across games, television, film, books, and more throughout June.
There are oh so many gay movies I could write about for Pride Month. Call Me by Your Name moved me to tears, A Portrait of a Lady on Fire is one of the most gorgeous movies I have ever seen, there’s a deep and moving melancholy to Ammonite, Moonlight is still underrated despite its highly memorable Oscar win, and more people need to see The Handmaiden. But instead I’m talking about Jennifer’s Body, because I love my trash.
I consider myself something of a film buff. I watched Morbius on opening night, don’t you know. By the end of this year, I will have seen the complete AFI 100 list and every Best Picture winner. I plan to watch every 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die movie before I die. I watch a lot of movies, from different eras, different genres, different countries. Objectively, I know Jennifer’s Body is something of a footnote in the cinematic canon. But it was the first actively queer film I can remember seeing (I was 14 when it came out), and I’ve not seen a movie since that has spoken to me as deeply.
Yes, it’s a fairly silly dark comedy about a lesbian vampire monster, but it’s not written or presented as something silly. It’s simultaneously incredibly aware of what it is, and yet also understands what people need it to be. The queerness at its heart is not the butt of the joke, it’s what keeps it going.
I hold both Jennifer’s Body and Life is Strange very close to my heart. Both are tales of female friendship evolving into a queerer connection, both with a nerdy, awkward girl and a more free-spirited friend. Both represent the first time I saw a story, either in film or in gaming, and connected on a more meaningful level than liking the story or the characters. I don’t eat boys and cannot reverse time, but I saw something of a reflection in their tales.
Part of the reason Jennifer’s Body made such an impression on me was the writing of Diablo Coady. The Oscar-winning screenwriter was fresh off the back of Juno, not to mention her previous job as a stripper at a fetish club, and has always been more sex-positive and female-forward than most writers in Hollywood. The less said about her directorial debut Paradise the better, but the rest of her back catalogue represents the same ideals as Jennifer’s Body. The difference here is that JB takes those ideals and makes them gay.
It has been a relief to watch Jennifer’s Body into a cult hit. It seemed to fizzle on release because of some terrible marketing. Promoting movies with two female leads was something studios routinely struggle with, especially if it’s not a rom-com. Add in the fact horror comedies are also difficult to market, and that Coady’s brand of writing can’t always be nicely sliced into a trailer, and the movie was always up against it. Trailers made it look far more salacious than it was, fetishising the kiss between Jennifer and Needy, presenting the film as completely different to what it was.
The trailers seemingly only knew how to promote the movie to men, so rather than a dark love story of obsession, friendship, and control, it was That Movie Where Megan Fox Frenches Another Chick. People who went to see it were disappointed that Fox was a rounded character with a meaningful arc, and those who might have liked it were put off by the ogling trailer.
Still, perhaps some original doubts remain. Maybe that’s the good that can come from this gay rambling, if it can convince any remaining doubters to finally watch Jennifer’s Body.