Not your Average Teen Movies

Why Scream and Jennifer’s Body Should be Heralded as Two of the Best Teen Movies of all Time

Cooper Milliken

People tend to think that the greatest high school movies are the movies that are mainly about your average, American high school students that go through relatable or realistic trials and tribulations. Because off that criteria many would say that The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Superbad, Clueless, Sixteen Candles, or Mean Girls are the best high school movies, but to me there are two movies that are always left out of the equation due to the fact that they’re about a group of kids being hunted by a killer and a girl being possessed by a demon who proceeds to eat boys alive. I think it’s about time that Scream and Jennifer’s Body are ranked amongst the best high school movies of all time. 

Scream is a 1996 slasher satire starring Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore, and Friends star Courtney Cox. The film followers a group of teenagers as they’re terrorized by the masked murderer Ghostface. Though the premise may sound familiar, the genre referential writing, and killer performances give Scream an edge that audiences loved. The film would spawn four sequels and a three season television series. Around the late eighties and early nineties the horror genre was based solely in sequels to larger horror franchises that came out in the seventies and eighties. Meanwhile the teen movie genre was BOOMING with such classics like Clueless, Dazed and Confused, The Babysitter’s Club, House Party, Clerks, and Mallrats. Therefore writer Kevin Williamson wrote a script taking the elements of a teen comedy, full of witty remarks, cool lingo, and interpersonal relationships then injecting it with a classic horror story. Therefore creating a movie that uses the witty high school writing style of the time and making fun of the horror genre. Although, it’s not a mean movie. Once director Wes Craven, director of Nightmare on Elm Street, came onto the project he was actually the one to retitle the film into Scream. Then he worked with Williamson to create a script that, yes, does throw jabs at the cliches of horror, but also celebrates the movies that came before it. 

Jennifer’s Body on the other hand is a 2009 horror comedy that stars Mean Girls star Amanda Seyfreid and Transformers star Megan Fox. Although the film is nothing like either of those as it’s a darkly comedic tale of Devil’s Kettle’s local popular girl, Jennifer Check (Fox), going on a slashing spree with her new found demonic abilities. All the while her doleful best friend, Needy (Seyfried), is slowly putting the pieces together and trying to stop Jennifer before it’s too late. The film is a fantastic commentary on female high school friendships and dissects then parodies the sad social ladder that’s based on sex appeal and sham self esteem. The greatest aspect of the film is the writing. Screenwriter Diablo Cody previously won an Oscar for screenwriting, with her work on the movie Juno, starring Elliot Page and Michael Cera. Her witty yet cheesy style of writing creates for a “goofy” yet all too realistic depiction of the “rawr lol XD” 2009 way of speaking. It’s a parody of high school and confronts the issues that teens deal with every day in a way that isn’t the usual way high school movies do so. 

These two films aren’t your average high school dramedies. They’re not “feel good” movies, they don’t look at the lives of high school students in the usual way, and they don’t have happy endings. Although, Scream and Jennifer’s Body do something that’s vital to any high school viewer…they’re true to the horrors of high school. As everyone knows, high school isn’t easy and the few issues that are presented in your normal high school movies aren’t nearly close to the level they are in real life. If anything, many of us would rather live in the high school of these characters than the ones in real life. That changes though when Scream and Jennifer’s Body are brought into the equation. I would definitely rather deal with your average arrogant high school individual than…some psycho with a knife or a demon using a preppy girl as a vessel. The horrors of high school are real and having to deal with that alongside something so outrageously horrific is a thought of true terror to high school students, but the best thing about these movies alongside the spookifing spiral of suspense is that…they’re really funny. High School is scary, but it’s also super fun and hilarious. I’ve laughed almost everyday for the past four years and I laugh while watching both of these movies. They’re relatable in more ways than one and they truly encapsulate what it means to be a high schooler and to someone trying to find their place in the world,  a little understanding from a ridiculous film or two is really, really appreciated.