Jessica Forever, a Shudder original film that’s directed by Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel, is set to be released this week. The film is set in a dystopian world where orphans are being targeted for their violent ways by the Special Forces Unit. The central character of the film is a woman named Jessica (Aomi Muyock), who has a sort of mother figure for a group of orphan boys. She decided long ago that she would care for any orphan that she came across since no one else would. After her group finds another orphan, Kevin (Eddy Suiveng), they decide to take him in. Now the group must find a new place to call home while remaining vigilant of any dangers that are out to get them.
I was quite intrigued after watching the trailer for the film a few weeks ago. On one hand, I expected a heavy dose of action scenes, but I also expected scenes that show the camaraderie between Jessica and her makeshift family. I was completely blown away with how close this group was and how much the boys were willing to do for Jessica. There’s a scene where the group is planning what to do for Jessica’s birthday and they all look genuinely compelled to make her happy. The orphans are beyond grateful that Jessica took them under her wing and treated them like family. It’s a bond that’s difficult to imagine being broken, especially in the world they live in. However, I would’ve loved for more to have been told about how these bonds were formed in the first place. It would’ve added a more emotional feeling to the overall film.
Aside from the bonds that were formed, I was awestruck by some of the locations where scenes were shot and how they played into the film’s narrative. There’s a scene where some of the orphans are swimming near a waterfall and making the most of the peace they have. Meanwhile, one of the orphans looks genuinely troubled with this new sense of peace. Without going into spoilers, he can’t seem to enjoy himself since he can’t escape everything that has happened in his life. It’s an extraordinary setting that shows how some are enjoying themselves while others are just reminded of the dilemmas of the outside world.
As mentioned in the synopsis, orphans are being targeted for their violent nature. Jessica’s group were all, at one point or another, violent since they were forced to fend for themselves. When she met them, Jessica wanted to make sure they would leave all that anger behind them. That’s easier said than done as the group constantly struggles with their emotions. One wouldn’t guess it from their tough appearance, but the group all have their own trauma to deal with. It’s great to see men in action films be much more than just the typical macho character that’s set on accomplishing the mission. The orphans must deal with what’s troubling them while trying to find peace.
As much as I wanted to like Jessica Forever, I was confused as to why that specific title was chosen. Taken as a more literal title, I could assume that the story would center more around Jessica. However, she quickly becomes a background character as the film progresses. If the purpose of the title was meant to reveal something deeper, I’m having a difficult time trying to figure out what that meaning may be. I could make assumptions, but it’s disappointing to not have a more concrete answer. The title gives the impression that this is more Jessica’s story, but the film mostly delves into her group.
I also had an issue with the overall premise of the film. The film seemed to stick to the original premise of the film for the first ten minutes but then it quickly transitioned into a different film. It took some adjustments to figure out what was going on and then to fully understand that I was watching a completely different film. I was fully expecting a hard-hitting action film but quickly found myself watching something centered around inner struggles and what family means. I’m ultimately glad that Jessica Forever made that transition but it would’ve been much more effective had that been the plot for the entire film.
I was completely surprised by Jessica Forever and had a great time watching the film. It truly is a confusing film at times but it makes up for it in the narrative and the bonds formed between the characters. There were some characters that had a bigger role, but the few that were the main focus made monumental impacts that made the film enjoyable. Jessica Forever is a film that I would have probably never seen but I’m glad that I have.
Jessica Forever will be available to watch on February 20th, exclusively on Shudder.
I was completely surprised by Jessica Forever and had a great time watching the film. It truly is a confusing film at times but it makes up for it in the narrative and the bonds formed between the characters…Jessica Forever is a film that I would have probably never seen but I’m glad that I have.