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To Jennifer – A Road Trip, An iPhone, And Some Horror

To Jennifer (2013)It’s amazing to me how far technology has come.

Just a few years ago, we started adding cameras to cell phones.  Now, some cell phones are sold strictly on how good of a picture they produce.  Now that everybody has a camera all the time, many news cycles would be empty without this footage.

With the found footage phase horror has been coming to a close, it’s surprising to me that many movies haven’t utilized this technology.  The first one that I can remember is Cloverfield.  After the Statue of Liberty’s head is tossed through the city, many people stop and take pictures of it with their phones.  The Paranormal Activity series, V/H/S, Meghan is Missing, and a few others have utilized web cams and the occasional telephone POV, but no movie has tried this concept using just a phone until To Jennifer.

To Jennifer takes the concept of found footage, twists it, and spits out a really interesting movie.  Although slightly predictable, I wondered how long it would take for the other characters to catch on.

To Jennifer is a film inspired by the show Cheaters.  Joey (Chuck Pappas) gets a text from his girlfriend Jennifer (Jessica Cameron) saying “How about you come over tonight and finish what we started last night?”.  The problem is that Joey lives no where near Jessica, and the text was meant for somebody else.

Joey enlists his cousin Steven (director James Cullen Bressack actually directs the camera on screen and plays Steven) to document the trip to see Jennifer.  He wants to catch her in the act.  They plan to shoot the entire film on an Apple IPhone.

Joey is a bit strung out .  The duo attempt to take a plane, but Joey has a panic attack and is hospitalized.  They also are placed on the “no fly” list, and ask Steven’s friend Martin (Jody Barton) to drive them.  The movie becomes a road trip film with Steven and Martin having fun, and Joey becoming more and more distraught.

After a few side adventures, they finally arrive at Jennifer’s house.

I’ve tried to shoot small movies with an iPhone to no avail, so major props to Bressack here.  This found footage movie made sense why they were taping all of the events (with some very notable exceptions).  Most found footage movies use the cliche paranormal investigator option, while others use security cameras.  This movie was meant to be for Joey’s personal collection.  The only (minor) gripe I had is that Joey seems to be way more obsessive than Steven.  If he was the one doing the taping, I could have understood continuing the taping on some occasions.  But Steven seems to be more laid back so it seems out of place.

The story is fun, and is the traditional road trip film.  Joey has the end goal in sight, Steven is the friend that is always there for him, and Martin is the crazy guy that gets them in trouble.  After a house party, they hit the road.  They end up at a seedy motel where something horrible just happened, and Martin introduces the pair to a couple of escorts.  I’ve been in bad situations with my friends, and one of us is always cracking jokes to lighten the mood.  The escorts are a little too nice here, however.  Joey goes crazy and they just laugh it off.  I thought for sure that something bad was going to happen with them.

The story becomes clearer and clearer throughout the movie, and we are left waiting for the horrific end (or some other character to figure it out).  Eventually, we meet the lovely Jennifer (and the man she’s cheating on Joey with).  There’s a lot of good here, but there are some moments where I couldn’t stop thinking “WHY???  Why are you still taping???”.  The ending credits are hilarious as Joey sings a very catchy song that had me rolling on the floor.  It’s dark humor at its finest.

To Jennifer just premiered on Amazon Prime yesterday, and is definitely worth a look.  The majority of it is a fun road trip, but it turns into a dark horror movie at the end.  There’s a lot here that works, but there is some that doesn’t.  Still, this innovative flick is a must see for found footage fans.






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