On this day in 2019, the film Knives and Skin was released in theaters. Described by FF2 contributor Brigid Presecky as “Riverdale meets Carrie,” this high-school thriller is a punchy and entertaining mystery, all the while being inclusive with a diverse cast and LGBTQ+ characters; it’s everything a teen movie fan could want. It’s no surprise that the woman behind this film is Jennifer Reeder.
Jennifer Reeder is an American visual artist and filmmaker, who gained notoriety early on for her experimental videos and performance art. In particular, one of her most well-known pieces was “White Trash Girl,” a fictional persona she created to explore the culture of America’s white lower class. On her website, Jennifer describes the themes of her art as “personal fiction films about relationships, trauma and coping.” Since “White Trash Girl,” Jennifer’s films have been featured in the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennial, Sundance Film Festival, The Berlin Film Festival, and other venues across the world.
Signature Move is a highly recommended, ‘feel good movie.’
One of Jennifer’s first feature films, Signature Move, fit nicely in with the content of her shorts. An indo comedy-drama, Signature Move is about a Pakistani-American lawyer named Zaynab who starts a romance with a bookstore owner, Alma, and must navigate coming out and her relationship with her very traditional mother in order to discover her own personal and cultural identity. As the director, Jennifer was able to navigate this difficult topic with delicacy and cultural sensitivity, while also keeping things entertaining and humorous. In her review of the film, FF2 contributor Eti Or says, “Coming out to one’s family is clearly harder when the family is traditional/conservative one, but the film cheers for those bravely determined to be themselves and seek happiness where it is truly to be found. I laughed many times and enjoyed the film so much! Signature Move is a highly recommended, ‘feel good movie.’”
As a part of her repertoire, Jennifer has also delved into the horror genre. In 2019, she created a short for Hulu’s “Huluween” called “The Dunes,” about a young couple who encounter a strange creature from the sea while at the beach.
Knives and Skin is a thriller for the modern age.
In 2019, Jennifer directed a feature-length thriller film, Knives and Skin. Set in suburban Chicago, the film explores the aftermath of the mysterious disappearance of high school girl Carolyn Harpe, whose absence has a profound impact on the lives of various people around her. With a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere, the film weaves together elements of mystery, drama, and the comedy Jennifer has become known for. Featuring a diverse cast of quirky and loveable characters, Knives and Skin is a thriller for the modern age.
As FF2 contributor Brigid Presecky describes in her review of Knives and Skin, “[it’s] bizarre and intriguing as the surreal story unfolds and introduces the entirety of the cast, primarily made up of young women and/or multi-racial actors. In doing so, Reeder bends the high school drama toward the future: same-sex couples, mixed-race families, etc.” This is exactly what Jennifer does best. She explores timeless themes such as class discrepancies and family dynamics, and bends them toward the future. All the while, she never fails to entertain audiences and make them laugh. Whether it is an experimental short film or a feature-length thriller, Jennifer knows how to make movies for the ages.
© Julia Lasker (12/6/23) Special for FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Learn more about Jennifer Reeder here.
Read Brigid Presecky’s review of Knives and Skin here.
Read Eti Or’s review of Signature Move here.
Watch Knives and Skin here.
Watch Signature Move here.
Watch The Dunes here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: Grace Smith & Kayla Carter in Jennifer Reeder’s film KNIVES AND SKIN (2019). Photo Credit: Collection Christophel / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: 2AB4MAR
Bottom photo: Filmmaker Jennifer Reeder at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of her new film PERPETRATOR (2023). Photo Credit: Lu Chau (6/11/23) / Photagonist/ MediaPunch Inc / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: 2R73B51