Anything for Jackson begins very strong and is fantastic for about the first two thirds of the film. The movie is about an elderly couple, Henry (Julian Richings) and Audrey (Sheila McCarthy), who kidnap a pregnant woman and attempt to transfer the spirit of their deceased grandson, Jackson, into the unborn child’s body. As Henry and Audrey’s plan becomes more and more clear we are sucked in and wonder if they will really be able to pull this off. Their plan certainly seems fool proof in the beginning but between the police investigation, nosy neighbors and supernatural entities there are certainly plenty of obstacles standing in their way.
Anything for Jackson has one of the best cold opens I’ve seen for a horror movie this year. The opening shot of the film pulls the audience in right off the bat, leaving them with tons of questions and clamoring for more. The cold open, like many other sequences in the film is beautifully shot. There are several scenes where the camera doesn’t move at all or smoothly follows a character through the house. These simple camera movements create a unique, creepy, and ominous atmosphere. The cinematography reminded me of films like The Conjuring, with a few longer tracking shots that gives the audience a sense of the space. The director of Anything for Jackson, Justin G. Dyck does a good job of giving writer, Kieth Cooper’s script a unique aesthetic. Anything for Jackson does not feel like your typical straight to streaming or straight to DVD horror film. The small film has a bigger, theatrical feel thanks to the outstanding direction and cinematography.
The performances, especially from the two older leads, Julian Rivhings (Man of Steel, X-Men: The Last Stand) and Sheila McCarthy (The Day After Tomorrow, Die Hard 2) are outstanding. They both play characters that are frail and seem so nice it comes off as borderline creepy. As old and innocent as they seem at the start of the film there is always something menacing lurking under the surface of their performance which makes us believe they would be able to pull off such a heinous crime. As the movie progresses, Henry and Audrey’s characters become very well-rounded and understood.
The film is reminiscent of Don’t Breathe and The Babadook, as it mixes an intense crime thriller and themes about grief with supernatural horror. The crime thriller elements stand out as the highlight of the film as Henry and Audrey try to get away with their crime and play a cat and mouse game with authorities. The supernatural elements have some highlights as well with some truely unforgettable and horrifying deaths and scares. Towards the end however, the film leans a bit too much into the supernatural element of it all and wasn’t able to hold me as well as the rest of the movie. Anything for Jackson also did a great job creating unique horror imagery, while also playing off of old, classic cliches well.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
While I was surprised by a few plot twists, Anything for Jackson ultimately ended up going in a direction I was a bit disappointed with. The ending becomes rather muddled and confusing because it feels like the filmmakers tried to do too much in the third act. The film has some good ideas and techniques at its core, but it’s poor ending may leave some feeling rather unsatisfied. It’s not a must see, but it could be a fun watch if you’re looking for something new to explore in horror. While the good certainly out weighs the bad, the ending sadly makes Anything for Jackson an above average, yet still mediocre horror flick.