Wednesday, June 15, 2016

2 Jennifer (2016)

2 Jennifer is a movie that will definitely get noticed very easily if you've got your DVD collection organized alphabetically. But other than that, I don't think it's good.

SPOILERS for the as-yet-unreleased movie in here!

Director: Hunter Johnson
Starring: Hunter Johnson, Lara Jean Mummert, David Coupe

Co-written with Nathan.

This is a brand new movie that isn't out yet as of the time of this writing, from this company called Sector 5 Films, which they sent to me as a promo. I was flattered about that, but also confused. Don't they know what I do? Didn't they know this would happen?

So my friend Nathan and I set out on what would be a sordid quest to watch the movie, which begins with a Blair Witch-style “documentary” thing where a bunch of seeming random people are talking about how cool this in-universe made-up movie called “To Jennifer” is. Apparently it was filmed on an iPhone, and that is somehow not an indictment so damning even Lucifer would find it harsh. No, instead, it is a thing worthy of praise.

The script then goes into a bunch of shots of various people talking about the first movie. You can really see that these people are budding movie critics, like this guy with a cool hat who I can totally take seriously:

Not exactly Lemmy from Motorhead...

Or this guy, who for some reason was filmed standing on a ledge on the roof of a building. Is he about to kill himself there? Did he just go “oh, well I better film that reaction to that low budget horror movie before I die, gotta check that off the bucket list”? Should we call an ambulance? No? Okay. I'll stop asking questions.

This next guy bashes the movie for "not being able to afford a real camera," and being shot on an iPhone, but I just love how he's just doing crunches with his legs around a punching bag suspended in midair. Can you not afford real exercise equipment?

Whoa there cowboy, don't blow us away too hard with this amazing camera quality you got on these shots! You might end moviemaking forever with how high you're setting the bar with this!

So anyway, now we have Spencer, a guy who likes to sit in the dark and make videos cackling creepily about how he's going to make the best movie ever when he makes his own iPhone-shot sequel to “To Jennifer.” He looks like every school shooter ever, totally just deranged and psychotic, but it's presented as this big “what if” question, like there's any doubt as to whether or not he's gonna be the villain. It would frankly be more surprising if he wasn't some psychopathic little fuck-stick.

This is actually Hunter Johnson, the movie's director, so I guess this is some sort of personal project or something.

That's really one of the big problems Nathan and I had with the movie – everything starts out as innocuously as a story like this should, with the implied threat of something horrific coming later. But unlike other movies where there would be some suspense, in this movie you basically know this guy is going to be the killer instantly just by looking at him and listening to him for a second. It's like buying a copy of Se7en, but your DVD comes with an unskippable opening scene spoiling the twist ending in bright, flashy letters, but it still presents the rest of the movie like you're supposed to be in suspense for some reason.

Another thing about this movie that didn't work is the sheer amount of time-wasting scenes that go on way longer than they should. In a very early scene, we see Spencer talking to his old high school friend Mack on the phone, who is a producer guy out in Hollywood. The conversation should be quick – “hey, I'm coming out there to film this movie.” “Okay, see you soon!” But instead, it goes on for several fucking minutes for no reason, just them repeating the same stuff over and over. What is wrong with you? Have you ever had a conversation? You know it's more than just words flying in empty space like lone drunk space ship pilots on a course to nowhere, right?

Great scene, and also, how are you filming yourself talking on the same phone you're supposed to be filming yourself with? It's like a Chinese puzzle box of confusion.

He then gets to California and meets with Mack, who expresses skepticism over the idea that anyone would watch this low-budget sequel to a cult horror film if it was filmed on an iPhone. But wait a second. Isn't the whole premise behind this that the original film was also filmed on an iPhone? Or did we already forget all about that, as if dialogue becomes meaningless and irrelevant five minutes after it's spoken, like the movie has Alzheimer's?

The following scenes, of Spencer meeting Mack' roommates, are filled with more utter nonsense, like a way-too-long scene of this Asian dude named Charles blathering on about how everything is atoms, which I guess he learned in science class or some shit. It really adds nothing to the story. I think this was just put in to a) pad out the runtime, and b) because the director's best friend probably just really needed to say some stuff about atoms, and why not kill two birds with one stone?

The weirdest part of all of this, and that's saying something, is Spencer's insistence that the lead actress of the film actually be named Jennifer, which is so bizarre that I have no idea how to even joke about it. Then we get a looooong sequence of these two chuckleheads auditioning various really hot girls for the part – oh, and the part consists of the girls pleading for their lives apparently from a killer, and talking about how they love the killer or some bullshit. I think Sigmund Freud would have an aneurysm if you showed him this. The mommy issues are just off the charts here! Even Norman Bates from Psycho would be like “dude, you're fucked up.”

"Yes, lean forward so we can see down your top and speak with even less boldness in your voice...that's what the audition needs...we sure are legitimate filmmakers!"

Our favorite was this one chick who just loses her mind and starts screaming at Spencer and Mack after they reject her. She is in the right to do that – they called her there from hours away, let her read one fucking line, and then Spencer said she wasn't good enough immediately. I just think it's funny the way she screams at them, mostly because they deserve to be screamed at. In real life I think way more people would react to these two shmucks this way.

Also, if they're filming all of this on an iPhone, where are all these different camera angles coming from? How are they filming themselves sitting there filming with an iPhone? And more importantly, why would you do something so asinine? This behavior is the reason God brought down the plagues upon Egypt, you know.

They do this shit multiple times. How? Why? What is going on? Just fucking film your movie without the found footage thing then, if you're just gonna make it convoluted and confusing as fuck!

They finally settle on this hot black-haired chick who is an amazing actress. Her real name in real life is Lara Jean Mummert, though; not Jennifer, so I guess they still failed.

Yes, film the girl who you made act vulnerable and scared with the camera up in her face - not weird or pervy at all....

Mack falls in love with her and starts acting less like a movie producer and more like a prepubescent boy with his first crush. It's really weird, and this whole character is weird, actually. He constantly flies off the handle and screams his head off for no reason when a normal person would maybe be mildly annoyed. It's really awkwardly funny to watch, actually, and reminds me a bit of how characters in something like The Room might act. Either way, somebody get him some Xanax or something, stat. He needs a big IV in his arm of it.

Then things get weird as Spencer and Mack crash this party where the director of the original To Jennifer movie is hanging out. He recognizes Spencer and then immediately starts a fist fight in the party, which is the appropriate response. Don't worry, kid; lots of great horror directors got their start this way. I heard John Carpenter had to go pick a fight with Bela Lugosi to win the horror crown and start making movies, and why would I make something like that up?

"Glad we brought the camera to see ourselves getting beat the fuck up!"

Then, hilariously, Mack screams and blows up on Spencer, crying that his job is now ruined because they got kicked out of some party. I'm not sure what Mack's job is, it's never clearly explained – nor is how it's “ruined” by working on some underground horror movie with a friend that no one will see. But apparently it does, and his life is now ruined forever. I'd feel worse for him, but his decision making skills are worse than a baby who licks an electrical socket, so frankly, fuck this guy anyway.

Spencer responds in the reasonable way: knocking Mack out with chloroform, and then going crazily over to Jennifer's house, where she's with her boyfriend. He kills the boyfriend and then beats her with a blunt object. Then he strips her naked, ties her up and kills her as well as Mack when he somehow shows up at the right time, and it's revealed that he was some kind of crazy person who had a crush on his old buddy Mack. And THAT'S why this all happened!

Wow, aren't you glad you saw all of that unpleasantness? Wasn't there so much rich character and plot subtext to soak in? Like... some people are crazy, and they do violent things to women. Wow! What a fucking message! That's so worth hearing! I'm being sarcastic as fuck as right if you for some reason couldn't tell! I'm really ruining this joke right now and I'm also probably annoying readers with this meta shit and the onrush of exclamation points!

So, yeah, Nathan and I weren't fans. We found the whole thing mostly dull, with tons of waste-of-time scenes that added nothing to the plot. Later on it just got too dark and unpleasant without reason. It's one thing to be really scary or dark in a compelling way, but this movie came off as needlessly nasty. It came off more like a weird snuff porn revenge film than anything resembling real horror. I guess it was trying to be like some sort of 'realistic serial killer story' or something like that, but the goofy, weird moments took you out of that, and there weren't enough scary moments or tense ones to pull you back in. So really, all you get is a weird, somewhat perverted mess of nothing. Pretty shitty.

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