Exclusive Premiere: Jennifer Grassman's "Haunting" Is Scary Good

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The last time we visited the cinemaudio work of Houston's own Jennifer Grassman it was because her and her filmmaker sister Kaitlin had cobbled together the suicidally fantastic music video "Bedroom Door." The work showed off Jennifer's penchant for vintage Americana as well as her angelic, ethereal voice and Kaitlin's stunning knack for atmosphere and mystery.

Now the sisters are back with a new video for Jennifer's song "The Haunting," and it shows a major leap forward in their ability to bring stunning songs to visible life. Filmed in a downtown Houston hotel, Jennifer's link to 1920s jazz-baby flapper culture gets even tighter. Dressed to the nines in period clothing, she leads a cast of dozens in the Charleston while playing the keys. Glitter and be gay and all that jazz.

"But wait!" you say because the people that read my column talk out loud to the monitor, "Why call some jolly, pre-depression romp, 'The Haunting?'" Well, let me tell you about the ghosts. The video is more full of ghosts than Caspar's family album.

Jennifer is backed by an amazingly rendered spectral band, the result of Kaitlin's experiments with green-screen technology.

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"It's exactly how I imagined it," says Jennifer. "Kaitlin went above and beyond with the ghost scenes. I honestly thought the ghosts wouldn't be feasible, so I wasn't even going to ask, until Kaitlin pulled out her green screen and suggested it herself. Great minds think alike!"

Even if Kaitlin didn't manage to portray the dead as a superb dancing skeletons like Lex Halaby and Toben Seymour did in Islands' "Hallways", her special effects work is pretty damned good.

The living state of Jennifer herself in the video is open to interpretations. The upbeat song hides a sadness and longing that could easily be the keening of a forsaken spirit. It's also possible that the whole thing is just a metaphor for a woman left by a man. At times we see her singing from inside a painting, and at others her misty figure is yelling at a man oblivious to her presence.

Jennifer does this a lot, making you wonder whether the subjects in her videos are alive or dead.

"Most women at one point or another have felt that their husband or boyfriend was ignoring them," says Jennifer. "And of course, most people are dead. So the song should particularly appeal to two very large demographics.

"Sadly, that latter demographic doesn't do a lot of shopping, or concert-attending... at least, not in this realm."


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Candace
Candace

Great review!  However, the comment about the length of the video reminds me of the film "Amadeus," where the king tells Mozart that his composition was too long because there are only so many notes the royal ear can tolerate.  When told there were too many notes, to simply cut a few and it would be perfect, Mozart cuttingly replies "Which few did you have in mind, sire?"  I would echo Mozart's character in my response, "I don't understand.  There are just as many notes (minutes) as are required, neither more nor less."  Kudos, Jennifer and Kaitlin on a phantastic video project.

Daniel Luthi
Daniel Luthi

Another fabulous chance to see what pops out of Jennifer and Kaitlyn's right sides of their brain...good work

Steve Steele
Steve Steele

About the comment, "Too many people let the length of their song dictate the length of the video".. I can understand that. However, take the Queen music video for Bohemian Rhapsody, which is 6:07 long. It has 41,264,124 views on YouTube. Jennifer Grassman's "Haunting" is 4:32, and it's a great song.  Perhaps Haunting, being a new and unfamiliar song, might make the video seem excessive. The Queen video is not especially that amazing. It's just some edited live footage mostly. But we watch it because the song is legendary, and watching Queen is always entertaining. So if your a fan of Grassman's song, as I am, then it really comes down to whether the song is a good candidate for a video, or if the video itself is good or not (which is a personal opinion). Artists today, because of the freedoms of DIY technology making any production possible, they must be really picky about what they release, because they/we have no one else to help manage quality control, other than ourselves. I'm not trying to draw any conclusion here, other than to make the point that the video's length is of no consequence if you enjoy it. Right? Now, was the length of my comment excessive? Probably!

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