Jennifer's Body is getting panned in some circles for the alleged tragic flaw of a horror movie not being particularly scary. They're mostly right -- Diablo Cody's genre follow-up to Juno doesn't really elevate the heart rate very often. But I think that's because it tips to the "high school" side of the "high school horror" balance; it's more of a teen drama with a bloody metaphorical twist than a full-on horror flick.
That may disappoint some fans, but it sort of gets at why high school horror movies work so well, so often. It's a cliche that "high school is scary," but movies that make a connection between the reasons high school is scary in real life and whatever monstrosity happens to be stalking or haunting the characters are the ones that tend to leave the biggest impression.
In honor of Jennifer's Body, which I think will be unjustly maligned in the weeks to come, here's a list of some high school horror movies that figured this out -- and a few that were just plain fun.
1. Ginger Snaps - The movie's IMDb plot summary helpfully begins: "This film uses werewolfism as a metaphor for puberty." Well, yeah -- though it is generally considered polite not to lead with something like that. (Sorry.) But it's not all allegorical navel-gazing. Ginger Snaps is an elegant, harsh piece of teen horror that brutally plays on teenage insecurities, and is a pretty good werewolf flick too. It's a shame that director John Fawcett largely disappeared into the (better-paying, I hear) abyss of television.