Directed by: James Cullen Bressack
James Cullen Bressack returns after the thoroughly unpleasant home intruder film ‘Hate Crime’ with ‘To Jennifer’, a film which covers obsession, voyeurism and ponders how modern life seems like it is seen through the lens of a smart phone. In fact ‘To Jennifer’ was shot on an iPhone 5.
There will be criticism of this, accusations of amateurism, but using the iPhone actually adds rugged authenticity to the film. You could argue that anyone could make this film, but this deceptively simple DIY approach has been cleverly edited to the point that it seems rawer than it actually is. One thing is for certain this is a tighter, better movie than ‘Hate Crime’.
We open with Joey (Chuck Pappas) talking straight to camera, addressing his girlfriend Jennifer who he suspects is cheating on him. Joey’s plan is to catch her in the act by staking out her house. Joey enlists the help of his cousin Steven (Bressack) to catch everything on camera. Steven and a jovial party animal buddy called Martin (Jody Barton) attempt to get Joey out of his funk, and distract him from Jennifer by introducing him to a variety of single women who are gagging for it and when that fails… prostitutes. They embark on a woozy voyage through the neighbourhood.
‘To Jennifer’ is a road trip which veers off into sinister territory. It makes a blunt comment on voyeurism in the internet age, as Joey becomes more and more fixated on Jennifer to the point that he hacks into her Facebook page. The camaraderie and banter between the three young men in the movie doesn’t feel forced, at times it feels like you’re watching a collection of YouTube videos that a few stoner buddies have made. I’m guessing a lot of the dialogue has been improvised, and again, what could be seen as something detrimental, actually turns out to help the film.
By the time you form an attachment with the goofy trio ‘To Jennifer’ becomes a trifle unsettling as Joey begins to freak out, becoming more and more detached from reality. The outbreak of violence that thus far in the film has consisted of a petty bout of drunken fisticuffs in a back garden, hits the viewer hard; Bressack’s restraint to not bombard us with shock and gore (like in ‘Hate Crime’) pays off in the bloody dramatic conclusion.
I suppose if you’re looking for comparisons, then it is a distant cousin to ‘Catfish’, and part of the Found Footage family that snowballed after ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Working on a shoe string budget, Bressack has made an engrossing little movie that although not ground-breaking, illustrates his continuing development as a filmmaker.