Rated: R Reviewed by: Frank Release date: November 6, 1992 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation
Sergeant John Berlin (Andy Garcia), a burned-out L.A. cop, joins the police force in a small Northern California town near Eureka. Shortly after he arrives he discovers a woman's severed hand and a dog shot in the back of the head in a dump while investigating another death. The hand and dog lead him to believe he is on the trail of a serial killer who has just claimed his eighth victim with the code name "Jennifer". Berlin's investigation leads him to encounter Helena Robertson (played by Uma Thurman), a young blind woman who may be his link to the murders and may also be the next victim.
Director Bruce Robinson gives little shock treatment to the story. Rather, he slowly drives his scenes and fills them with tension that creeps up slowly and brings tingles to the spine instead of revulsion at bloodstained scenes. The setting is winter and the trees and grass are all dead, dull and dark, as is the institution where Robinson lives and teaches. The atmosphere is more like England than California and the bleak winter scenes add to the feeling of danger and threat to Robertson, Two scenes stand out: the dump during the search for body parts is lit and steaming with an eerie fog, and a scene in which the blind girl is alone in the middle of a party with people passing around her as she slowly panics from fear of the unknown.
Jennifer Eight is not perfect. It is too long but it is clearly a film which was crafted with care and does not take the easy traveled path. It also has an interesting, unconventional ending. All together it makes for an enjoyable evening of mystery and murder.