Thursday, May 26, 2016

2 Jennifer

Score Technician: Joe Hemmerling

Back in 1999, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez rocked the film world with The Blair Witch Project. For less than the cost of a new car in today-bucks, Artisan films wound up raking in $240.5 million at the box office. The film was characterized by its minimal production values, hand-held camera work, and naturalistic performances that never broke the found-footage framing device. So, naturally, when the time came to make a sequel, the studio did away with every single thing that made the original interesting or unique in order to make a movie ghost tourism, maybe (Come on, you don't think we actually sat through Book of Shadows, do you? There are some things even the nanobots can't endure)?

Kudos, then, to 2 Jennifer, the sequel to James Cullen Bressack's 2013 homophonically named, straight-to-video feature, for doing its best to maintain both the themes and production values that set apart the original film. The movie centers around a couple of estranged friends, Spencer and Mack, as they attempt to make a sequel to To Jennifer. It soon becomes apparent, however that one of them is harboring an unsettling ulterior motive. Like the first installment, 2 Jennifer was shot entirely on an iPhone, offering an interesting new take on the done-to-death found-footage genre. But is this gimmick enough to appease the ever-ravenous nanobots? Read on, loyal Scorehards, and find out...
  • It's a ballsy move to start your sequel with fan testimonies to how great the original movie was. = -2pts 
  • But, hey, one of the girls singing To Jennifer's praises is wearing a Misfits shirt. The nanobots can forgive a lot for that. = +2pts 
  • So far, we're guessing that director Spencer's obsession with Jennifer stems from his longing for someone with whom to watch Sex and the City reruns. = -6pts 
  • Take heed, Mack, when James Cullen Bressack demands that you put his movie into production tomorrow, you don't let little things like “stable employment” and “making rent” stand in your way. = +3pts (Do you know the kind of weight that guy pulls in Hollywood?) 
  • “You're not going to regret this, dude”: Right up there with “I'll be right back” as the least-true words spoken in a horror movie. = +1pt 
  • Scene of Spencer driving around singing along to his car stereo makes us think of this. = +10pts 
  • “You know, I'm actually going out [to Los Angeles] to make a movie” is probably the most redundant statement ever made. +2pts 
  • Street Harassment: The Movie. = -7pts 
  • “We have to cast a Jennifer to play Jennifer or it's not going to make any sense.” - Spencer, demonstrating a lack of basic understanding for how “acting” works. = +8pts 
  • For your reading pleasure, a spoken line of dialog stripped of all context: “Dude, I'll be your Sweet D.” = +11pts 
  • Pictured: The state of California given human form. = +5pts
  • Accusing your producer of “overthinking” things when he asks questions about how you guys are going to go about producing your movie. = -3pts 
  • That moment when Spencer heads into the kitchen and the camera lingers a beat too long on the knife. = +13pts 
  • Scene after scene of Spencer being a dick to all the auditioning Jennifers will likely be the scariest part of this movie for any working actors in the audience. = +9pts 
  • “I'm the fucking Valtrax Herpes Girl.” = +18pts 
  • Saturday nights be like... = +22pts
  • “As long as I don't have to get naked, or anything.” - Jennifer, who has never seen a direct-to-video horror movie. = +9pts 
  • Some good old-fashioned John Carpenter-esque Stalker-Vision. = +7pts 
  • “You got fucking weird since high school,” Mack, showing off his submission for the understatement of the year award. = +4pts 
  • Letting the guy who got so drunk he cut his own hand open drive you to James Cullen Bressack's party. = -6pts 
  • The scene of Mack and Spencer showing up to a party where no one knows them will likely be the scariest part of this movie for any introverts in the audience. = +28pts 
  • Mack, laid low by the old formaldehyde rag over the mouth bit. = +2pts 
  • We're not saying that every sequel needs to include a scene where the director of the original gets stabbed in the neck, but it definitely would have enhanced our enjoyment of Batman v. Superman. = +14pts 
  • Maybe Jennifer would have had more luck fending Spencer off with the kitchen knife if she wasn't also filming the altercation. = -10pts 
  • So Spencer wants to kill Jennifer because he... also wants to be Jennifer? Sure, we guess. = -30pts (For 11th-hour detours into transmisogyny.) 
  • Mack's idea to roll up on his psychotic friend without a plan, a weapon, or police backup plays out about how you'd expect. = +6pts 
  • It feels weird to use the word “anticlimactic” to describe an ending where the main character disembowels a girl and then cuts his own dick off, but here we are. = -11pts 
  • Where does this leave us with the prospects of 3 Jennifer? = -3pts
Total Score = +96pts
Available on: Home video, the iPhone of your creepy friend from high school that you haven't hung out with in a decade

The nanobots are intrigued. Writer/actor/director Hunter Johnson does a great job illustrating the uneasy comradery between Mack and Spencer, while at the same time maintaining an atmosphere of slow-burning dread beneath the surface. He does such a good job, in fact that inevitable bloodbath waiting for us at the end of the movie can't help but seem underwhelming. This is, perhaps, the one area where the film's hand-held camera work underserves it, as a more traditional set-up might have given Johnson room to let the scene's complex emotions breathe. The choice to have Spencer don Jennifer's dress and makeup at the end was also a questionable one at best, as the killer queen trope would have been a politically dicey one, even if more had been done to set it up. Nonetheless, 2 Jennifer is a surprisingly effective exercise in low-budget horror, and a disturbing portrait of a mind in pieces.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for watching guys! This review had me cracking up. Really appreciate you checking out the film & all the best!