FOR JENNIFER (2018)
aka 4 JENNIFER
Directed by Jody Barton
Written by Jody Barton & James Cullen Bressack
Starring Tiffani Fest, Rich Finley, Lanett Tachel, Dominique Swain, Felissa Rose, Madeleine Wade, Meghan Deanna Smith, Frankie Cullen, Rachel Hardisty, Gregory Blair, Jennifer Nangle, Martin Harris, Monika Ekiert, Danielle Taddei, Jody Barton, Brittney Grabill, Charles Chudabala, David Biedrzycki, Don Barris, Hunter Johnson, Lily Thaisz, Noel Jason Scott, Alexander T. Hwang, Maryjane Green, Reyna Meree Velarde, David Wesley Marlowe, Chuck Pappas, Audriena Comeaux, Paul Stephen Edwards, Eric Hollerbach, Nick Kekeris, Robert Van Guelpen, Brian Simpson
FOR JENNIFER is the fourth entry in James Cullen Bressack’s JENNIFER series. The film series began with TO JENNIFER, a found footage-ish style film filmed on a cell phone, documenting one man’s descent into madness orbiting around his obsession and jealousy towards a woman named Jennifer. The second film, 2 JENNIFER, focused on a pair of filmmakers trying to make the perfect sequel to the original taking a meta-approach to again showcase the darkest forms of obsession. FROM JENNIFER shifts gears to an actress pursuing fame by trying to do extreme things while filming with her phone to get noticed in social media. If anything, this film series is a testament for the ingenuity of indie filmmaking, utilizing common filmmaking devices in order to tell a story. FOR JENNIFER continues with that tradition.
FOR JENNIFER focuses its lens on a new Jennifer (Tiffani Fest), a blogger and horror film buff who becomes the new target of a stalker who places cameras in hidden and not so hidden locations in order to put together a horror film. Unbeknownst that she is already the subject of a horror movie, Jennifer, her boyfriend Joey (Rich Finley) and her best friend Stefani (Lanett Tachel) have decided to make their own horror movie. After some scenes of casting and the usual pitfalls of making a no budget film, both filmmakers collide in a gory showdown of whose movie this really is.
All of the JENNIFER films have been fun in that it is a tongue in cheek commentary on our own obsession with social media, filming everything, and fame. FOR JENNIFER continues to push this theme and does so with a capable hand. It is a concept that is as relevant today as it was in 2013 when the first one was made. Anyone who has ever dreamed of making a low budget horror film or has had the privilege of working on one will appreciate and immediately recognize these themes. This is a film series by indie filmmakers and for those with a passion with indie cinema.
From a strictly “found footage” POV, FOR JENNIFER has a few cheats that are obvious to anyone who has seen more than a few films in this subgenre. Music is added to specific scenes (such as the casting sequence which plays wonky music to promote laughs), which means the film has been produced. Key edits are made and scenes are shot from various camera angles, such as a scene where we get exteriors of a car pulling out of a parking lot when the camera is filming inside of the car. At the beginning, there is a disclaimer stating that this is a movie produced by a filmmaker, meaning that it has indeed been produced, edited, with music added. This sort of makes up for the inauthenticity of the footage that was found, but given the fact that previous entries followed the found footage format, this results in placing FOR JENNIFER in an awkward place apart from the rest of the JENNIFER films. It’s a difficult concept to explain completely, but for found footage, the more authentic the footage seems, the more effective it is. Every step of production takes away from the power of having that first person POV and FOR JENNIFER does it quite a bit.
A lot of the actors involved, especially Tiffani Fest, do a decent job of trying to act without seeming to act. Dominique Swain and Felissa Rose show up in smaller roles and while I’m always glad to see these actresses, they don’t add much to the story. The final climax is fun if you’re a fan of the series as is the final twist, but I feel as if this series has run its course. While continuity is fun, if it bogs down the story and makes it essential that one has to watch earlier segments of the series in order to fully understand and enjoy it, something is wrong. With the JENNIFER series, it went meta in the second feature. It worked again with the second sequel. This one tries to double back and go back to basics, but I think that because there was less attention paid to making this one authentic, FOR JENNIFER didn’t work as successfully with the format and themes used in previous entries.