Anything for a decent Shudder flick…
Shudder is starting to up their game with their exclusive content. This is good, because so far I’ve been pretty unimpressed. Out of the several selections I’ve already viewed, most of them were boring or outright bad. But I can honestly say that Anything For Jackson (2020) is damn good. Good enough, where I’m sure it will find a spot somewhere on my top 50. Not high, but on there, and that’s an impressive feat.
This movie was almost entirely about atmosphere. Not that this was the only thing it had going for it, just that it’s rather like a haunted house horror. Good supernatural horror has to be dark and brooding. Now, it never got so dark that I was compelled to turn off the lights, but it was pretty grim. But it was more than that. The whole house, even the town that this takes place in, had an aura of the dark and depressing. This was likely achieved through lighting filters that gave all the shadows a thickness to them. They even shot during the wintertime, which added to the melancholy of the set. We’re not talking about Hereditary (2018) levels of setting and atmosphere, but it was damn close.
The acting was stellar as well. Both lead roles are played by two really solid actors. You should recognize Sheila McCarthy pretty quickly from her recent role in Umbrella Academy and Julian Richings who played Death on Supernatural. The supporting cast was also fantastic.
The plot is deeply engaging as well. They don’t hold a lot back, the opening starts off with the leading roles kidnapping a pregnant woman. You find out quickly that they want her fetus for some sort of spell. Basically, they’re trying to resurrect their grandchild “Jackson” by having him inhabit the unborn fetus of the woman they kidnapped. This leads to a whole series of nail-biting conundrums, the least of which is hiding a full-grown pregnant woman from the town and the police.
Under the surface of what’s already an engaging plot, this is a movie about amateurs trying to wield real unearthly powers. Some of this I’ll have to talk about in the spoilers, but the whole movie is about dealing with the consequences of black magic. Through this, there are some downright fucked up scenes that play well on the already high anxiety this movie will likely have you at.
I think I have to consider this a “Must Watch” for Horror Heads and general adult audiences. It really is quite good and in the same vein of horror as a haunted house movie.
One scene I have to take issue with is when Detective Bellows (played by Lanette Wares), catches the old couple. At first, it seems kinda natural. Both leading roles seem like they’re WAY the fuck out of their element. Sheila plays a retired teacher and Julian plays a doctor. Messing with black magic is already a pretty big issue for the couple. Hiding a pregnant woman in their house seems like it was honestly too much for them to begin with. You KNOW they’re gonna get caught, so when they do, it really works on the level of anxiety that the couple is playing at.
But then Detective Bellow just fucking kills herself. No confrontation, no struggle between two desperate geriatrics and a cop. You get the feeling that the “spell” is sorta just protecting itself, and BAM, the cop puts a bullet in her own brain. It’s a shocking scene but it feels forced. It’s like the writer or the director wrote themselves into a corner. Yeah, it wouldn’t make much sense for the old couple to overpower a trained police officer, but I feel like that was a confrontation we needed to justify the scene at all. The two leads are fucking OBSESSED. They would for sure kill a cop in cold blood to save their ritual. That would also spiral the tension out of control as more and more cops started showing up trying to figure out what happened to the detective.
I have to say the ending was also a little predictable, though I feel like that was okay. The couple gets in WAY over their head, predictably, so they bring in an outside agent to help with the ritual. That actually makes a lot of sense. Though, predictably, he tries to hijack the ritual for his own purposes. I won’t spoil it, but you’ll likely figure out what he’s up to in the first couple scenes with him.
Overall, it’s a solid flick that I could recommend to just about anyone and I’m serious when I call it a “Must Watch.”
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- Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Sputnik’ (2020) - May 6, 2021
- Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Anything For Jackson’ (2020) - April 29, 2021
- Reed’s Literary Horror Review ‘At The Gates of Chaos’ (2021) Edited by Scott Dyson. - April 22, 2021