To Jennifer is a 2013 found footage horror-comedy from James Cullen Bressack. It was one of the most talked about titles of that year, mostly due to the fact that it was filmed entirely on an iPhone and contained a lot of noteworthy independent horror actresses. Although I have not personally seen the movie, we promoted it a lot here at HorrorSociety.com. A few months ago I became aware that a direct sequel was in the works and I was shocked to see it was gearing up for a release so soon. Luckily, I was provided with a digital screener and I was lucky enough to see the new entry in the franchise, 2 Jennifer. Here’s my thoughts on the new movie.
2 Jennifer is written and directed by Hunter Johnson with executive producer James Cullen Bressack. Johnson and Bressack also star in this feature film alongside David Coupe, Lara Jean Mummert, Charles Chudabala and Matt Holbrook. The film also features appearances from Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Erin Marie Hogan (Hold Your Breath), Veronica Ricci (Bloody Mary 3D), Jarret Furst and Josh Brown; as well as cameos from Marv Blauvelt, Dawna Lee Heising and Kevin Sommerfield.
Synopsis: “Two filmmakers, Mack and Spencer, attempt to make the perfect sequel to To Jennifer. However, a dark secret threatens the lives of everyone involved as the filmmaking process begins to spiral out of control. Jennifer, a beautiful actress, now has two options: become the heroine of the film or face a brutal death.”
From the moment I started watching 2 Jennifer I was hooked, mainly due in part to the montage of fan submitted reviews which featured appearances from people I’m acquainted with in the independent film industry… and a guy doing crunches while hanging from a punching bag. For some reason, this had me thinking, “this is cool,” and now I can pinpoint why. 2 Jennifer has a very Inception feel to it, or going by horror film standards… it’s like Scream 3 meets Wes Craven’s New Nightmare all shot on an iPhone in that it’s a horror film that exists inside a horror film. It’s trippy and fun and the addition of recognizable horror talent adds a third level of mind-bogging Inception to the mix. You can make a drinking game out of it, actually. Take a drink or take a shot every time you see someone you recognize or every time you notice 2 Jennifer is crossing the borders of fiction and reality. Just a really cool concept that was done well.
As I mentioned above, I’ve never actually seen the original installment, To Jennifer, and I was a little leery when James Cullen Bressack says he won’t do a sequel but someone else can take over the reigns during his first scene at the beginning of this flick. I, however, had no problem at all following along with he story-line despite having been absent from the first film’s screenings. This is definitely something I want to clarify and highlight to anyone who reads this review: you do not need to see To Jennifer to enjoy and understand 2 Jennifer. It stands on its own two feet as a full fledged, fully original title while giving you just enough insight into the happenings in the previous feature. This point also lends a particular positive nod to the script writing from Johnson, who was able to bounce previous events off of current events without having to use distractions or flashbacks. So, this made 2 Jennifer run smoothly. Good job there!
Now, I have to mention the quality of the picture, because like it’s predecessor 2 Jennifer was filmed on an iPhone 6. David Coupe’s character gives a tongue in cheek nod to previous criticisms by saying, “no one will watch an iPhone movie,” during one of his early scenes, but I have to say this is pretty well done. Sure, it’s found footage and that style of filmmaking tends to make me want to pull my hair out due to the director and crews lazy methods. Luckily, with 2 Jennifer there are so many positive aspects of production – good angles, perfect audio, good special effects, perfect acting, and great storytelling – that I’m able to look over a personal hatred of mine to give 2 Jennifer two creeped-out thumbs up as a polished production. The lighting and camera quality was a little… eh… during the night scenes, but there’s not much you can do with an iPhone when tackling that.
One of the last review points I’d like to mention is the level of suspense and gore that 2 Jennifer possesses. 2 Jennifer is more about the destination than the journey; more about the break down of one man’s psyche as he pursues his goal of making a horror sequel to a film he’s infatuated with. Because of this there isn’t too much blood and guts until the last twenty minutes of the movie, so the gore hounds will have to stay on their leashes until almost the end. The suspense, though, is sky high because you learn early on that everything is not what it truly seems. You know something is very wrong, someone is absolutely bat shit crazy, and you spend the movie waiting for him to snap. It’s a subtle suspense that is reminiscent to older films from the 80’s and 90’s. I think this works in the film’s favor because you can grow attached to the characters and their story only to watch them get sliced and diced at the end.
Also, before I conclude… I want to mention that Felissa Rose has a small role in 2 Jennifer, but it is absolutely one of her best performances from the last few years. I’m saddened that she didn’t have a bigger part here because she certainly brought the fire.
2 Jennifer is the perfect horror sequel with massive appeal to those who follow the independent horror scene. It’s well written, chilling and frightening when you think that the scenario pictured within could happen in real life. It’s suspenseful, bloody and a justifiable sequel. You don’t even realize you’re looking at iPhone quality video. And you’ve never seen behind-the-scenes filmmaking like this before! 2 Jennifer will blow your mind with its reality bending plot, well cast and well acted players, and its journey into the dark recesses of a deranged, psychotically obsessed superfan. Final Score: 8.5 out of 10. Loved it.