The Jennifer in Frank Merle’s movie is a down-on-her-luck actor who is told by her agent (horror legend Tony Todd) to raise her social media profile so that she would be more desirable to directors and producers. One of the girls in her acting class, Stephanie Hart (Meghan Deanna Smith) has done just that (with annoying levels of accuracy), so Jennifer asks for her help. Unfortunately, an ex-boyfriend has released an intimate video of her carrying out a sex act onto the web, which isn’t exactly the sort of exposure she wanted. This results in her being offered parts in exchange for a repeat performance and her agent dropping her. It does, however, give her the idea to enact her own type of revenge porn and raise her Internet profile at the same time.
While Stephanie will be helping Jennifer with the video editing and online side of things, she needs a strong arm partner in her venture, and employs a hulking simpleton Butch (Derek Mears, who played Jason in the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th). He’s loyal and trustworthy, and willing to do anything to make Jennifer happy, even if he gets a little over zealous and takes things too far.
Taking a timely swipe at the Internet-fame hungry crowd we’re faced with on a daily basis (and that make us dread using YouTube these days), #FromJennifer is a brilliantly entertaining - and shocking - tale. As Jennifer (don’t ever call her Jenny!), Taddei is perfect. Like a young Winona Ryder, she’s a doe-eyed ingénue whose plan for both success and revenge are as misguided as her career choice. While she doesn’t set out to cause physical harm to anyone, as things spiral out of control, so does her mental state. Tony Todd really camps things up as the agent whose sincerity and loyalty are more than a little suspect, his silky voice adding an extra level of sleaze to the character while Derek Mears’ dangerous but well-meaning gay sidekick is both tragic and hilarious. However, it’s arguably Meghan Deanna Smith’s Stephanie who steals the show, but for all the wrong reasons. She’s self-obsessed and addicted to social media, always thinking what her ‘fans’ would want to see next. We see this kind of vacuous attention junkie all the time and it never fails to infuriate us, and that’s just what Smith does in the role, she’s that good!
Filming on multiple GoPro cameras this time around rather than iPhones allows for a slightly more cinematic feel (in that we get cutaways and such) while also keeping the intimacy of the ‘found footage’ style. The premise (if not the horror aspect) is all too believable; we’re constantly bombarded with self-proclaimed scream queens and actors whose online presence suggest success even when they’ve done little in the way of actual work. #FromJennifer is arguably the strongest and most accessible of the trio of ‘Jennifer’ films, particularly since one doesn’t need to know anything about the others to enjoy it.
#FROMJENNIFER / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: FRANK MERLE / STARRING: TONY TODD, DANIELLE TADDEI, DEREK MEARS, MEGHAN DEANNA SMITH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW