2 JENNIFER (2016)
Starring Hunter Johnson, David Coupe, Lara Jean Mummert, Felissa Rose, Erin Marie Hogan, Veronica Ricci, Jody Barton, James Cullen Bressack, Jarrett Furst, Josh Brown, Charles Chudabala, Matt Holbrook, Chrissy Cannone, Marv Blauvelt and Erin Killean.
Screenplay by Hunter Johnson.
Directed by Hunter Johnson.
Distributed by Sector 5 Films. 83 minutes. Not Rated.
The title of the low-low-budget found footage horror film 2 Jennifer is not just randomly awkward, it is the sequel to a 2013 low-low-budget found footage horror film called To Jennifer. You’ve probably have never heard of it. I certainly hadn’t. However, the original movie is notable because it was filmed completely on iPhone 5. It did not exactly light the world on fire, but it got some attention on the scare circuit and was considered a good, down and dirty bit of DIY horror moviemaking.
Okay, this is where the story gets a little meta.
2 Jennifer is a loose sequel to To Jennifer about an obsessive fan of the first film. In fact the first few minutes of the movie are random videos of people talking about To Jennifer. They talk about how the world needs a sequel. Then James Cullen Bressack, the writer/director of the original, says that he doesn’t have any plan of making a second film of the story, but he agrees that someone should do it and he would give it his blessing.
In this film’s world, apparently To Jennifer was a much more influential, well-known movie than it was in, you know, the real world. Everyone knows about the movie (though very few people have actually seen it) and Bressack is a respected fixture in the LA movie scene, granted, one who holds wild keggers at his Hollywood apartment. Bressack and To Jennifer co-star Jody Barton have cameos as themselves.
It is here that we meet Spencer (played by writer/director Hunter Johnson), an aspiring filmmaker who lives in his mother’s attic, but has come up with the ideal premise for the sequel to the film. As he explains in a just slightly disturbed sounding opening monologue, all he has to do is get to Los Angeles and find the right Jennifer.
Therefore he flies out to the west coast, crashing with an old buddy from home named Mack (David Coupe). Mack is in the lower rungs of the show business ladder and he jumps at the chance to make the sequel with his old buddy.
Quickly some red flags come up, but Mack tries to explain them away because he is so excited about the opportunity to produce a movie. First of all, Spencer rather unreasonably insists that the actress playing the lead character of Jennifer also be named Jennifer. (“You think Jennifer Aniston only plays Jennifers?” Mack complains frustratedly.) Spencer also seems oddly picky and rude to potential actresses during auditions. And Bressack, who is supposed to be intimately involved in the filming, never seems to show up when he is supposed to.
So the sequel of To Jennifer is actually a movie about making a sequel of To Jennifer. It’s actually a rather clever, if slightly precious, way of continuing the franchise while still having a unique storyline. Granted, The Human Centipede 2 used a very similar refracted looking-glass premise of a sequel revolving around the actions of an unhinged fan of the original film. (And The Human Centipede, while no huge hit, at least was well-known enough on the original release to buy into the premise more easily.)
Let’s face it. The audience knows that Spencer is nuts from the second that we first see him. A good part of the fun of 2 Jennifer is watching his mask of sanity slip further and further askew and seeing the people surrounding him realize just how disturbed he is.
The first hour or so, which is mostly set-up and a long-but-clever set piece in which Spencer and Mack interview a series of frustrated actresses named Jennifer, is particularly intriguing.
The violence starts about an hour in, when a face-to-face meeting between Spencer and Bressack sends Spencer’s illusion spiraling out of control. From there on, the gore is fast and furious, but honestly the carnage seems significantly less interesting than the subtler, more nuanced setup.
Like To Jennifer, the new film was made on iPhone, though in at least one sequence (the actress auditions) there was an additional camera set up. For a film made in such a low-tech way, it actually looks pretty terrific and professional through much of the running of the film. Of course it has the typical problem with found-footage movies – once the action starts the filming becomes choppy and hard to follow. And some of the gore, in particular one scene where a knife cuts through flesh, looks awkward and stuck in.
However, considering the low budget and the obscurity of its source material, 2 Jennifer actually is a lot better than you might expect. It’s a bit predictable, but that’s okay. 2 Jennifer is not trying to reinvent the wheel, it’s just trying to be an effective little slasher film. It mostly does that with style.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 20, 2016.