12th May2020

‘For Jennifer’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Dominique Swain, Felissa Rose, Lanett Tachel, Rich Finley, Madeleine Wade, Frankie Cullen, Meghan Deanna Smith, Gregory Blair, Jennifer Nangle, Tiffani Fest, Rachel Hardisty, Martin Harris, Monika Ekiert, Jody Barton, Danielle Taddei, Audriena Comeaux | Written and Directed by Jody Barton

The “…Jennifer” films are a series of strange beasts. The first, To Jennifer, was released in 2012 and was the first film (despite the claims from elsewhere) to be shot completely on an iPhone, the iPhone 5 in this case. The sequel, 2Jennifer, was a meta take on the franchise that saw the films director, Hunter Johnson, play a crazed fan who wanted to make a sequel to his favourite film To Jennifer and ended up killing the cast and filmmakers of Bressacks’ film! The third film, From Jennifer, wasn’t released until 2017 and is more of an homage to the first two films, featuring an actress called Jennifer, whose quest for fame ends up in a bloody rampage. The only real connection, besides sharing some cast/crew, to the series is the notion that the “star” of the film is called Jennifer and she’s as crazy as the filmmakers of the previous 2 movies – oh, and this is shot found footage style once again; the films even credited to a CHARACTER in the film, Jennifer’s friend Stephanie Hart, who urges Jennifer to vlog her actions in the film!

For those unaware of the prior three movies this film, the fourth in the series, recaps events prior before For Jennifer begins proper (and it lays out the basic premise of the franchise throughout its runnning time). This one is even more tightly connected to Bressack’s original, feeling like the Halloween 4 of the franchise, swinging back to the core themes and character of the series after a previous films departure. On top of that, For Jennifer sees Jody Barton, one of the actors from the original film and who played himself in the sequel (and who’s a long time collaborator of James Cullen Bressack’s), return to the franchise as this films writer and director.

This time round we’re following another Jennifer, played by Tiffani Fest who, is a horror blogger and huge horror movie fan. After she’s in a car accident after getting freaked out by a terrifying birthday present (actually footage from 2Jennifer), her friends decide they could make a movie – after all they’re already filming their lives on their phones most of the time. They then discover the existence of other low budget horror films similar to theirs – the other “… Jennifer” movies. This sends Jennifer down a proverbial rabbit hole, trying to find out where these other films came from, ultimately putting her life and her filmmaking friends lives, in actual danger.

For Jennifer takes everything, and I mean everything, we’ve seen and learn from the previous three films and throws them into a reality-blurring melting pot that turns this film series into a kind of real-life urban legend – a warning that no-one, absolutely no-one, should ever make a film about ANY Jennifer, ever! Whilst at the same time the film feels like a reality TV-like behind the scenes look at low-budget filmmaking in L.A. rather than the fictional film it actually is. Honestly, if you though 2 Jennifer was meta, you ain’t seen nothing yet… This really is next level meta filmmaking.

We’ve got appearances from the rest of the franchise stars and filmmakers, including the likes of Chuck Pappas (To Jennifer), Felissa Rose and Hunter Johnson from 2Jennifer and Meghan Deanna Smith (From Jennifer); the previous films are treated like snuff movies rather than narrative films, fortifying the idea that films about “Jennifer” are cursed; then there are some nice nods to the reception the first film got in the genre press (as do a lot of found footage films), referencing that just because you can make a film on your phone doesn’t mean you should – comments Bressack’s film received from mainstream review sites. For Jennifer evens rips apart the very notion of this kind of filmmaking, where runtimes are padded out with boring talking heads and daily blog style footage rather than any sort of narrative-pushing plot. They even dissect the “found footage” genre as a whole – referencing Blair Witch and the grandaddy of the genre, Cannibal Holocaust – and how best to blur the line between fiction and reality. All the while blurring the line between fiction and reality!

For Jennifer eventually takes the next step in the franchise, making the audience watching this film complicit in what happens on screen and the franchise – playing up to the notion that horror films are the realm of the sick and twisted individuals who only watch to see people die. Yes, it’s a false narrative pushed by those that dislike the genre and aim to censor horror filmmakers and films, but if we’re going to flip the idea of reality and fiction on their heads, making what’s not real (the films) real, why not flip that ridiculous idea on its head too and make it real?!

The perfect end to this franchise, For Jennifer finally wraps up the series in a neat little filmic bow, whilst leaving just enough plot threads open for future sequels should any other filmmakers have a story they want to tell in the “…Jennifer” universe. Though many would be wise to leave well alone, after all For Jennifer is both the best of the series and the perfect way to end it too.

For Jennifer is available on VOD now.

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