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John’s Horror Corner: Anything for Jackson (2020), a warm and homey sulfuric breath of fresh air that wanders into pure sinful entropy.

March 26, 2021

MY CALL: From a writer and director of an extensive filmography of family-friendly Hallmark channel holiday movies and light feel-good romance, my mind was blown that these two managed to marry their experience in warm home pleasantry with, well, a satanic ritual sacrifice. This movie eventually gets shocking and brutal, and the end wanders in to bonkerstown, but only in ways I find enjoyable. I strongly recommend this film! Its originality a breath of sulfuric air. MORE MOVIES LIKE Anything for Jackson: If you find you need more Satanic influence in your life (or at least in your movies), then I’d recommend Prince of Darkness (1987), Event Horizon (1997), House of the Devil (2009), Deathgasm (2015), Ready or Not (2019) and maaaaaybe Satanic Panic (2019) and We Summon the Darkness (2019).

Henry (Julian Richings; Cube, Wrong Turn, The Colony) and Audrey Walsh (Sheila McCarthy; Still/Born) are a lovely older couple who lovingly bicker over breakfast. They have a lovely home, a seemingly normal life, and… oh… and they’ve just abducted a young pregnant woman.

Audrey has a quaint grandmotherly disposition in hosting their kidnapped guest, and Henry is actually her doctor who will continue to see Shannon (Konstantina Mantelos; Damaged) and her unborn child to term. They explain this in clear detail to Shannon, including that they have no desire to harm her. They even blatantly explain to her (in about the first 5 minutes of the movie) that this is the only way for them to “bring their grandson back.” So who’s the adorable little giggling twerp playing in the corner, you may ask? Well, you’ll have to watch this little film gem to find out.

The entire cast doles out phenomenal performances. Even as we learn their true nature, Henry and Audrey remain a warm and delightful couple you’d only wish to have as in-laws. As their plan begins to unfold, they are overjoyed. Audrey even makes friendly small talk to a mortified Shannon while caring for her… all the way until the ritual.

From the moment the Walshes perform their Satanic ritual on Shannon, their home is haunted by infernal echoes of suffering in the form of disturbing visions and figures. Whereas most of the film feels meticulously crafted, there was a rather “indie” budget moment in the depiction of a supernatural entity. It definitely struck me momentarily, but it didn’t quite take me out of the scene entirely. On the other hand, there was scene that I found positively harrowing! I’ll just refer to it as “the flossing scene,” and it’s an awful visual I feel I have not seen before. Not just that, but even yet more jarringly unexpected shocks lie in store. The visuals are disturbing and abrupt.

This film is expertly tactful at easing our comforts with the Walshes’ pleasantries, and then jackhammering our moral sensibilities with something twisted. All the while brandishing great camera work and lighting. This film is executed with strong proficiency.

Director Justin G. Dyck is not the type of person we’d expect to helm a film like this. He has an extensive history of making family-friendly made-for-TV, Hallmark channel holiday movies and light feel-good romance. And his writer (Keith Cooper) for this film wrote many of those warm and gushy scripts. So, to put it lightly, my mind was blown that these two managed to marry their experience in warm home pleasantry with, well, a satanic ritual sacrifice. The end wanders in to bonkerstown, but only in ways I find enjoyable. I’m a bit uncertain about the conclusion. But perhaps that was point. Either way, I strongly recommend this film! Its originality is like a breath of sulfuric air.

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