Indie Informer: Jennifer Help Us: An ultra-low budget film done right
Welcome to the first installment of Indie Informer: Horror without the edits. Twice a week I’ll be shining a light on all aspects of underground low budget horror and the people who sacrifice to bring us their unique visions. For the first offering I want to highlight Juan Ortiz a filmmaker that I met at the Chattanooga Film Festival. During our conversation Juan mentioned his film Jennifer Help Us. As soon as Juan told me it was a horror film shot on an iPhone 4S and a throwback to 70’s style horror I knew that I had to see this film. There have been a plethora of low budget 70’s themed horrors as of late but Jennifer Help Us rises above the pack and provides inspiration to future filmmaker’s showing them that they can get their vision made. The film is about a group of high school girls who kidnap and torment a fellow classmate and leave her at the town’s haunted house. The house isn’t empty though and once the past occupant of the house returns the tables are turned on the tormentors. Juan and crew set the perfect mood with a desolate location that will instantly remind people of the house that their town had that the kids all talked about. The cast all pull their weight and bring a true life feel reminiscent of those 70’s gems that we all love. Jenny Gorsett’s portrayal of The Woman feels otherworldly in the movements and mannerism’s that she exhibits in her silent role. The mask design for her character is simple and effective hiding any facial emotion the character has and deferring it to the perfect body language that is delivered. What struck me along with the unique camera angles and movement was the perfect use of music throughout the film. Genre films are notorious for their music and as of late there has been a renaissance in horror scores but what Juan does with music to convey tone and emotion throughout the film is utter genius. He has a true understanding of how to make the music work for the moment and for the characters without beating us over the head with constant pulsing tones.
His higher budgeted contemporaries could learn a few things from his use of the score. Jennifer Help Us is available to view for free at Jenniferhelpus.com I highly recommend checking it out. Juan Ortiz is a filmmaker that you need to keep an eye on he’s a fearless filmmaker that took the resources that he had available and made it all work providing genre fans with a film that hits all the right marks. Go out and support your local film festivals, talk to the filmmakers that are in attendance if I hadn’t have met Juan in Chattanooga I would have never known about Jennifer Help Us and I would have missed out on his wonderful contribution to low budget cinema.