Today, I dilly-dally on the outskirts of the genre. While Jennifer 8 wouldn't ordinarily fall under the horror umbrella, it would certainly appeal to fans of Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs. Linear Hollywood "thrillers" rarely supplicate authentic ingenuity, so my expectations were, shall we say, demure. I was nearly humbugged by the generic poster. Thankfully, I kept my mind open enough for the film's stealthy script to adhere itself to my synapses. If you're not in the mood to read a full-bosomed computation of Jennifer 8, try the curtailed version on for size. Are you ready? It might behoove you to take notes...I really fucking dug this flick. It's good. It's very good.
If you're still reading, congratulations! You have just won a horehound-flavored bear trap signed by the fashionable Satchmo Gloopen. TERMS AND CONDITIONS: The trap must be returned immediately. In theory, Jennifer 8 doesn't have any right to be an inventive, spellbinding keeper. Sure, the cast is laureate, but the plot doesn't exactly scream "Oscar bait." Andy Garcia plays John Berlin, a lugubrious cop who settles into a small town by diving headfirst into a case that involves severed limbs in an ash heap. He is convinced that this girl was murdered by the same psychopath responsible for a rash of grisly deaths a few years prior. Each victim was blind (some partially, some entirely). As the throes of irony would have it, Berlin's sole witness is - you guessed it - blind.
Our witness is a cute, taciturn Uma Thurman. First of all, she disrobes, and we get a peek at the parts that matter. She's also quite likeable. Garcia turns in a grounded, believable performance, but I was most surprised by Lance Henriksen's showing. I mean, I wasn't surprised that he could act; I was surprised that he was vouchsafed with a fairly substantial role. This was one of his last dignified appearances in a motion picture. Look, it's John Malkovich in an extended cameo! It goes without saying that he soars above and beyond the call of duty. If he decided to star in a string of infomercials, I would start watching infomercials. Because I totally don't watch infomercials, like, constantly. No, sir.
The suspense is volatile, the visuals are murky (I adored the shadow play) and Christopher Young's score is dismally fetching. Jennifer 8 stands out amongst a myriad of nondescript "serial killer" movies. We don't spend any time with the antagonist until the final thirty minutes. To offer a bit of perspective, Jennifer 8 clocks in at over two hours. And yet, I never shuffled my feet in a brume of lassitude. The storyline is always driving forward. Just when I thought I had predicted the ending, I was proven wrong. So yeah, you need to rent this fucker. It it flawless? Sadly, no. I was content with the conclusion, but I needed more closure. My spoiler-free stance precludes me from elaborating any further.
I realize that I've spoiled other films, but this isn't The Maze. Calm down.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:33 PM