Meta horror is nothing new. While it was around before, Scream brought it to the mainstream along with several movies that spoofed the genre. Successful horror only became harder to make as audiences got smarter and could call out bullshit based on dramatic music cues. Found footage became a huge sub-genre, but also made it cheap and easy to make a profit no matter how bad that movie may be. FOR JENNIFER, I admit, does a pretty good job at blending fact and fiction as it is questionable what is considered reality or just part of another movie.
FOR JENNIFER, directed by Jody Barton, follows a group of aspiring filmmakers after one of them receives a birthday gift from an anonymous fan. She witnesses footage of multiple murders being committed and is uncertain as to if this a snuff film or just someone else’s idea of an odd joke. Naturally, she is inspired and decides to make a movie with her friends. However, they slowly figure out their movie is not a standalone feature, but actually connected to an existing franchise. This correlation isn’t a coincidence and someone takes notice as “accidents” occur as well as threatening phone calls. Suspicious characters show up and who knows if someone knows more than they are letting on.
The entire movie is filmed using non-professional cameras, putting more responsibility on the actors to make this experience believable. For the most part, they do succeed. Their private conversations don’t feel forced and the shots can be at awkward angles as someone not in the business would do. While some scenes were off as to why would someone still continue to film but I suppose that is a thought that goes through many brains when watching found footage.
There is a sequence around the mid-mark where our cast hosts auditions that were quite possibly the most entertaining moment of the film. The characters that came through had big personalities and provided plenty of comic relief that was needed. I wanted the rest of the movie to be like this. It felt true and made me smile. This was also the chance for Felissa Rose to show off her signature big personality, but her screen time is short and is missed as soon as it’s over.
FOR JENNIFER opens with a premise that is indeed an unrelated sequel to three previous Jennifer movies and I had just assumed this was part of the movie’s lore. However, the power of Google came through and it turns out I missed out on some movies and this is a legit real part of the story. It’s a small franchise, but successful enough to warrant four movies as of now. There is an audience for this, especially for those who like DIY filmmaking. Another surprise was seeing Dominique Swain in this. She had made a name for herself in the past with high profile movies like Lolita and Face/Off but as of lately she has laid low.
Part of the joy in watching movies like this is that these characters are movie geeks too. There’s plenty of references thrown around as well as references to their own movies (Circus of the Dead is prominent if you pay attention). That subtlety actually worked as it reminded me of movies that I had been meaning to watch – product placement works and I have no complaint.
FOR JENNIFER is not for everyone but the trailer and previous films hide nothing as to what it’s offering and all the recognizable faces in horror indie filmmaking make it fun to watch. I hope the next Jennifer movie decides to go the more traditional route to give it a spin and prove that these guys have what it takes to step outside of found footage. FOR JENNIFER is now streaming on VOD.