– By Kriss Pickering
While it finally feels that the “found footage” epidemic is showing signs of slowing up, some indie filmmakers still use the much maligned sub-genre to tell their stories. One of those film makers is ‘#FromJennifer’ director, Frank Merle.
‘#FromJennifer’, while not related story wise, is the third film in the “Jennifer” series, following 2013’s ‘To Jennifer’ and its 2016 follow up ‘2 Jennifer’. The creative team behind the series have done a pretty good job of keeping each instalment fresh, whilst staying true to the series’ central ideas. You see, in the first film, we follow the titular character’s boyfriend as he sets off on a quest to confront the cheating Jennifer. In the second film, we’re introduced to a director called Spensor who is making a sequel to ‘To Jennifer’, but needs to find a real girl called Jennifer to play “Jennifer” (confusing, I know).
In ‘#FromJennifer’ we are introduced to, you guessed it, Jennifer! This time however Jennifer is a fame obsessed actress who simply wants the chance to prove herself. After her manager makes a point of telling her she needs a bigger online following, Jennifer decides to create a video diary of her life, and uploads it to the internet. Unfortunately for Jennifer, while her own career is stalling and spirals deeper into the shit, her friend Stephanie’s career goes the other way, which really sticks in Jennifer’s craw.
Just when it feels like things can’t get any worse for her, Jennifer suddenly becomes a viral sensation. Unfortunately for her though, its not the type of fame she wanted. You see, her ex had filmed her giving him oral sex, and decided to upload it for the world to enjoy. Now at her lowest point, she plots her ultimate revenge, which I wont spoil, but it’s safe to say that revenge really is a dish saved cold!
Now, if you have seen ‘#FromJennifer’s’ two predecessors, the first thing you will notice is the difference in tone. Director and co-writer Frank Merle and his writing partner James Cullen Bressack have given this instalment a much more comedic feel. They have added a lot of direct, crude laughs and really allow things to get, well, bizarre.
The comedy is well balanced with the horror though. The makers have used the modern phenomenon of wanting to be “internet famous” to make the horror relatable. If you have kids of secondary school age (or younger these days) you will know just how much energy they put into getting “followers” and “likes” on their social media pages, and this film shows how this outlook can go horribly wrong.
The actual film is well made. They shot it using GoPro cameras to give it that authentic Vlog feel, and the diary pieces lampoon some of the real life “celebrity” Blogs brilliantly. I did notice the sound quality dip a few times, but that may have been my player.
Acting wise, the standout is Danielle Taddei, whose performance of the aspiring actress is brilliant. It’s the first time I’ve seen her, but look forward to seeing her pop up in more things. She gives Jennifer an almost Wynona Ryder-esque quality to start with, and does an impressive job of turning this confident young actress into a revengeful entity.
Although she’s the standout, the decent performances don’t stop there. Meghan Deanna Smith is absolutely perfectly cast as Jennifer’s successful and overbearing friend Stephanie. She is so over the top annoying that you can’t wait to see her get bumped off. We are also treated to a couple of members of Horror royalty in the Candyman himself, Tony Todd, and Derek Mears. Both are just supporting roles, but they give the film a sense of the big time.
Obviously, the film isn’t perfect. It was obviously made on a small budget and it does show. Fortunately the quality of the script and acting makes up for it though. There also may be a few scenes that non horror nuts may find too much. But I suppose films like this weren’t made for non horror fans!
To wrap things up, I have to say that this was my favourite of the 3 films. Its comedy/horror balance was near perfect and the cast very talented. But I think the biggest compliment I can pay is that by the end I’d totally zoned out the fact it was a found footage film, which to me can only be a positive!