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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/15/00

Jennifer 8
1992 (2000) - Paramount

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Jennifer 8 Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/C-

Specs and Features

125 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 59.59 at the start of chapter 8), theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Before Seven, there was Jennifer 8, a hyper-stylized look into the mind of a killer. Jumping on the serial killer bandwagon started by Silence of the Lambs, Jennifer 8 presented a killer with a weird agenda, a cop with a dark past and a strong female character at the heart of the film. It’s not the best of the genre, but it certainly has its charms.

Andy Garcia stars as John Berlin, a homicide cop moving from L.A. to a small town in California called Eureka, where he’s running from his past and finding comfort under the wing of his old friend Lance Henrikson. The first day on the job (actually the day before), they stumble on a gruesome discovery in the local dump - a woman’s hand, discarded in a bag of chicken lo mein. So John has his first case, and he can’t get it out of his head. He thinks he can solve the murder. The only problem is, his superiors want the case shut down and are willing to write it off as medical waste improperly discarded. Piecing the clues together, John begins to believe the woman was blind, and heads up to a school for the blind to investigate. It's there he meets Uma Thurman, a blind music teacher and finds that the killer is only getting started.

Jennifer 8 is a tight whodunit. Like most whodunits, everyone is a suspect and the telegraphing is pretty broad. The local newspaper guy could be the killer, the head of the school could be the killer, and even the motorcycle cop (who everyone treats like crap) has the ability to be the killer. The identity of the killer is still pretty easy to figure out, but that’s alright - it’s still a good flick. The best thing is Conrad Hall’s cinematography. It’s dark, gritty and creepy. You’ll get sucked right in and won’t get out until the end. If you liked Seven, you’ll like this.

Paramount’s DVDs have been getting better and better in terms of product quality, even over the last few months. This is a gorgeous anamorphic transfer, preserving Hall’s photography in a grand way. The picture has all the right grain, the blacks are deep and the colors (what there are) are wonderful. The sound is also good. There are two English tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0) and both sound as rich and enveloping as they did in the theater. Christopher Young’s score is haunting here and the sound effects work to make your head swim. There are no extras, aside form the trailer, and that’s a shame - but par for the course at Paramount. That’s the next big step for the studio, doing consistent special editions. They got everything else right, so now they need to really start knocking us dead.

Jennifer 8 is creepy, kooky, and all together spooky. Wait... that’s another Paramount disc. Either way, if you dig severed body parts and dark atmospheres, then this is a flick you might want to check out. The performances are good, the look of the film is incredible and there are a few surprising plot twists that might grab you. Plus John Malkovich has a cool walk-on. It’s worth a spin.

Todd Doogan
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