Director – Dario Argento
Cast – Steven Weber, Carrie Fleming, Brenda James, Harris Allan, Beau Starr, Laurie Brunetti, Kevin Crofton
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
During the first trivial season for this awesome idea of a series titled “Masters of Horror”, the fourth episode gave us what many horror fans had been waiting for, infamous Italian director Dario Argento’s entry. This first entry of his(he has a second, titled Pelts) titled Jenifer, gave us a strong sexual element we did not get very much of in Argento’s main films, and of course with the utmost amount of gore and true horror. Sex, gore, horror? I’m interested.
Jenifer stars Steven Weber as police officer Frank Spivey, an honest and straightforward cop. One day while on duty he sees an estranged man dragging a battered woman by a stream. When he reaches the couple he sees the man about to chop her head off with a butcher’s knife, and kills the man with a single shot. As he checks on the woman he finds a grisly surprise. She is heavily disfigured, and cannot speak. With nowhere for her to stay, she is sent to a mental hospital, which pulls at Steven’s heart. He decides to take matters into his own hands and take her home with him so that she has a place to stay for a while, much at the behest of his wife. This proves to be a fateful decision for Steven. He has no idea about what lies in Jenifer’s past and just exactly why her former caretaker tried killer her. But soon, he will find out.
I had heard good stuff about this film going into it and thankfully this did prove to be a fun and positive watch. Because these “Masters of Horror” films are technically “short” films, they take off pretty quickly due to the decreased runtime. Right away we get thrown into the horror that is…Jenifer’s face. Wow. It was a nice touch to see such a pretty person(hypothetically) with such a disfigured look. This was made even more awesome with that fact that (spoiler coming) we never find out what caused her to become the way she is. We get a nice feel of dread when Steven stops Jenifer’s original caretaker from killing her, alerting the viewer that Steven made a huge mistake at the cost of valiance.
The real horror begins when Steven takes Jenifer home, and she makes a real “mess” of his life. We get some nice gore scenes that I am sure fans of the feline variety are not going to be pleased with. Dear PETA, watch this please, I want to ruin your day. Anywho, as usual with Argento’s work he does not stray away from the gore and lays it on thick in this film. We don’t get many on-screen kills and are instead only given the opportunity to view the aftermath of the kills, with someone’s guts in Jenifer’s mouth. Some of you may like the post-kill use of kills, and some may not. One aspect I did take notice with was the amount of sexual scenes in this film. There have been mild elements of sex in Argento’s previous films, but never to the extent we saw in this one. I wont say I prefer it, but it was nice to see Argento give us something he usually does not implore. Of course, it is always nice when sex involves a horribly disfigured woman.
Aside from Argento’s positive direction the storyline is an ok on. Not amazing, but with such a short runtime it is hard to fit in much development. Nonetheless, the story moves and developes nicely as we go from one sense of horror to another at the hands of Jenier.
My one little beef with this film was that I had the climax guessed by the second the opening series began. Yes, I am not joking. Some may not care too much, and neither did I, but it is always nice when you cannot guess the film’s climax within the first 5 minutes of the film.
Overall, this is a nice watch and a positive installment into the “Masters of horror” TV series by one of horror’s maestros. Give this one a chance.
– I ranked this film #9 out of the 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.