‘To Jennifer’ could be commended for being an innovative take on several genres. Part psychological thriller, part road trip movie, but ultimately its biggest contribution is that it is one of the most intimate POV horrors I have seen in ages.
The concept of ‘To Jennifer’ is unique, but refreshingly simple. When a seemingly normal guy gets a text indicating that his Mrs is cheating he decides to make a movie of its effect on him and the events leading up to his master plan of catching her in the act. He gets his mate to make this movie, who then gets his mate involved to help spice up what promised to be one whiney adventure.
Filmed entirely on an IPhone 5 we get to see a very personal account of one man’s degradation into madness with the final confrontation being far from what any of them thought it would be.
I would use the terms ambitious to describe such an effort, however this suggests that you must have to assume the bar was just that little too high to be achieved. I believe that this movie not only perfectly suits the POV approach, but actually captured the very essence of why this technique would even be conceived as a filming style. The dialogue, and this movie is very dialogue driven, flows naturally between scenes, the characters are eccentric but relatable, and the situations which are used to move the story between acts are equally believable. Not to have the POV perspective would remove that social presence which made the movie so engrossing.
I would say the biggest pitfalls of the POV filming, aside from the shaky cam, has to be the false dialogue. Shitty actors, engaging in most mundane of ‘normal’ conversations is not only very detrimental to the relationship of the viewer with the characters, it kills the whole reality vibe these movies hope to portray. ‘To Jennifer’ avoids this entirely with a clever script with decent dialogue, avoiding the use of the awkward fixed camera positions and quick paced set pieces. Genuinely, the banter between cast in this movie is very witty, and if you can’t laugh at some of the shit they pull – the transsexual prostitute being a highlight, then you clearly haven’t lived the life I have! The characters are goofy, in the way your own mates probably are, and the situations they get up to share a similar context to what you might experience at college or university.
The movie builds and builds, then, just when you think you know the characters (and wonder where the film is going) things take a rather diverse twist. Actually, I guessed the twist quite a time before it happened, but it was nice to see it play out anyway. The ending, which is perhaps the weakest element of the movie, doesn’t quite make the impact it may have, but then the balance is always going to be fine. The recent reboot of ‘Maniac’ shows how murder can be done brutally in POV, although it was heavily stylised which would perhaps not have suited the style of ‘To Jennifer’.
Overall ‘To Jennifer’ was a pleasant gem to find, see other POV horrors on this site, I’m not always a fan. It’s well thought through, well written, competently shot, and most of all very entertaining. If you’re looking for something different to the standard genre fare, this could be just what you were looking for.