An Early Frank Black?

The 1992 suspense thriller Jennifer 8 from director Bruce Robinson should have been a killer flick given the cast but mostly lands as disposable filler. Starring Andy Garcia, a young Uma Thurman, John Malkovich, and character actor Lance Henriksen (Aliens), the cast is bogged down by a complicated plot and trite story elements. The intricate albeit messy mystery film served as a template for many tempestuous serial killer flicks in the 1990s, including Seven and a string of lesser films.

The box office failure was practically disowned by Robinson, claiming the theatrical release was a studio hack job by Paramount. For this edition Scream Factory has created an alternate cut as a second option, replacing the ending with unearthed deleted material, though this new cut is in no way a true director’s cut. The new ending is rough and unpolished, if interesting enough. While providing a few more answers, Jennifer 8 fans will likely prefer the original theatrical ending despite its issues.

Uma Thurman is more than a pretty face in Jennifer 8, credibly playing a blind person

Homicide investigator John Berlin (Andy Garcia) has recently moved from the city to the sticks when he makes a breakthrough in a serial killer case involving unidentified female victims given the alias “Jennifer.” A young blind woman, a music student named Helena (Uma Thurman) is the only witness who can possibly identify the killer. As Berlin draws closer around Helena, who can trust the detective when he becomes a suspect in the murders? Will the vulnerable Helena become the next unsolved murder victim?

Jennifer 8 has several things going for it with a few crucial negatives hobbling its hairy screenplay. Lance Henriksen is phenomenal as one of Berlin’s police associates, a gritty performance which he expanded upon brilliantly later in the decade as ex-FBI agent Frank Black in the criminally forgotten Millennium.

Uma Thurman is more than a pretty face in Jennifer 8, credibly playing a blind person in a convincing manner. The character serves as the love interest for Andy Garcia’s protagonist. Their relationship is badly written despite being a linchpin element in the plot. Garcia himself proves why he never really made it in Hollywood as a serious leading man despite several opportunities. Andy Garcia has the look, he simply doesn’t have the acting talent to carry a film by himself.

The first couple acts are fairly intense if slowly paced, aided by the mostly stellar cast. Jennifer 8 begins to unspool after a shocking murder, when it starts resembling a schlocky Law and Order episode. John Malkovich isn’t bad but the character is a one-note role let down by confused storytelling.

Jennifer 8 is merely serviceable as a taut R-rated thriller despite recognizable performers and a big Hollywood budget. The new alternate ending is predictably different than the original film’s abrupt finish but not a game changer for Jennifer 8’s ultimate reputation.

Video

Scream Factory licenses Jennifer 8 from Paramount, employing a 2023 4K scan of the original camera negative for this updated Blu-ray special edition. They include both the original theatrical cut running 125 minutes and a second cut featuring a never-before-seen alternate ending, which uses several minutes of upscaled standard-definition footage as inserts. Both cuts are shown at the proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio on a single BD-50, encoded in strong AVC.

Interestingly enough, Jennifer 8 made it to Blu-ray over a decade ago when WB issued several Paramount films for home video. With the WB release long out of print, Scream Factory’s satisfying new transfer is extremely film-like with excellent grain reproduction, tight textures, and pleasing detail.

Primarily thanks to atmospheric cinematography from legendary Hollywood cinematographer Conrad Hall. The moody aesthetic is steeped in deep shadows and impressive definition, often highlighting real depth. Dark, muted colors dominate.

The 35mm film elements are in top shape, looking barely worn. Jennifer 8’s lack of success likely hurt its chances at a 4K UHD release, as Scream Factory passes this time around by only going BD, but this new Blu-ray looks significantly better than the earlier one, offering more refined picture quality.

Audio

The theatrical version receives 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD MA options, while the new alternate cut is only heard in 2.0 DTS-HD MA stereo. The moody music from Christopher Young and authentic sound effects are big winners here, while the dialogue becomes mysteriously muffled in select scenes.

Jennifer 8’s mastering has far too much dynamic range, poorly balancing the whisper-quiet dialogue with more impactful sonic cues. The mix is fairly immersive, opening up the set pieces with a barrage of careful surround backing. Separation and clarity are especially nice.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. I will mention one problem my disc demonstrates which I haven’t seen mentioned in forum discussions or in other reviews. Dialogue from Lance Henriksen blanks out for a split second at approximately 14:34, only a problem for the 5.1 mix found on the theatrical cut. It’s fine on the stereo 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. No idea if this is a problem unique to my copy or a more widespread issue.

Extras

Scream Factory issues the 1992 Paramount thriller in a new special edition, packing the box office dud with all-new special features and even an unseen new cut of the film which uses an alternate ending.

Jennifer 8 arrives in a slipcover. The disc is coded for Region A.

Original Theatrical Trailer (02:22 in HD)

Deleted Alternate Ending (05:44 in upscaled HD)

Is It Dark Yet? Looking Back At Jennifer 8 (42:38 in HD) – A new retrospective on the film with interviews of writer/director Bruce Robinson, actors Andy Garcia and Lance Henriksen.

Extended Jennifer 8 Cut With Never-Before-Seen Alternate Ending (129:27 in HD; 2.0 DTS-HD MA w/ optional English SDH subtitles) – Not a director’s cut but offers a different, more complete finish deviating from the theatrical’s strange ending.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Jennifer 8
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

A messy, occasionally thrilling serial killer investigation from the early 1990s with a lackluster Andy Garcia marring strong turns from Uma Thurman and Lance Henriksen

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 52 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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