Mandrake’s review published on Letterboxd:
Spoilers for, like, an awesome theory about the film.
I used to be a troll on IMDB and loved to argue with people who misunderstood films. It was my favourite thing to explain to someone why they were seeing, or interpreting, a film wrong. But then I had an argument about Jennifer's Body.
Another user argued that the film was a work of genius about the second coming; that Jennifer was Jesus come back to earth.
Initially I was very much "get the **** outta town", but inch by inch, example by paralleling example, I was won over and convinced that the story is that Jennifer is the second coming, but as an bitchy succubus groupie instead of a sensible craftsperson with a talent for home economics.
The IMDBer sent me on a research reverie across the internet looking up events in Jesus' life that were carefully woven into Jennifer's Body, until I was doing a 180, admiring the tapestry of modernisation of the inevitable sacrifice story. The film took on new layers - was the film saying that Jesus had also been poisoned by evil and that was phased out of the chronicles about him? Was Jennifer supposed to have a similar to the big J but circumstances of modern times forked destiny? Or does the style of her sacrifice indicate which side is winning or has won the divine battle at the turn of the century? Or is there folly in the rigid dogma of evil and good and the rituals and separation between the two sides?
The user claimed they were not the writer of the essay that seemed to have inspired most if not all of the deity based comparisons, but simply another person (like me by this point) won over by the religious analysis.
There was one area we never stopped fighting over, across weeks of self indulgent volley: if the film doesn't explain the esoteric details that make the story so clever, they don't notice, don't know it's being clever and don't know the film is anything other than a teen horror movie about a bitchy groupie and supposedly plain best friend.
People can't just know esoterics. That's why they're esoteric. If you're going to find a way to include crosses and the bitter cup and longinus and a bunch of other stuff that only Sunday School and bible study attendants would know about, you need to tell everyone else about it. I as a white, Welsh girl from a basic bitch education and atheist family, knew none of these oh so clever symbols and allegoricals. I know so little of the life of Jesus beyond the key events, I didn't know there was any references to know.
I argued the film would be some sort of masterpiece if it expositioned more than just the basics of demons, maybe even one conversation pointing out events that happened to Jesus that happen to Jennifer too, just to point out that something is being pointed at. Without communication to tell viewers who don't know much about Jesus that this is happening, that level of meaning is a complete failure. My quarreler thought that people should somehow be able to make the psychic jump to knowing that something multilayered is going on even if they know nothing of what it is. Each to their own.
Certainly I enjoyed the film when I thought it was a simple horror movie playing on the succubus mythos, and I enjoyed in a new way when viewing through the lens of female Jesus parable, and added to that, the essay about all the Christian iconographising is an entertaining read. All in all it makes the whole movie a lot more of a cinematic bargain.