The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - ANYTHING FOR JACKSON | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - ANYTHING FOR JACKSON

anything for jackson review
An elderly couple employ Satanic practices in an attempt to resurrect their dead grandson.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Justin G. Dyck

Starring: Sheila McCarthy, Julian Richings, Konstantina Mantelos, Josh Cruddas, Yannick Bisson

anything for jackson poster

Meatloaf once told us he would do anything for love. But his declaration came with a caveat - "But I won't do that!" Just what he meant by "THAT" has been the subject of scholarly debate (okay, drunken party speculation) ever since. THAT must have been pretty extreme, because in the same song Meatloaf tells us he would "run right into Hell and back."

In director Justin G. Dyck's Canadian chiller, grandparents Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry Walsh (Julian Richings) would do anything for Jackson (Daxton William Lund), the infant grandson they lost to a fatal car crash, including going to Hell and back. However, they find that once you enter Hell, there's no going back.

anything for jackson review

After studying Satanic rituals with the help of creepy local devil worshipper Ian (Josh Cruddas), and somehow acquiring an ancient book of spells, Audrey and Henry hatch a plan to transfer the soul of Jackson into the body of an unborn child. Henry's job as their small town's doctor puts him in touch with some suitable candidates, and he settles on young expectant mother Becker (Konstantina Mantelos), whom the couple abduct and imprison in their home while they prepare the ritual that they hope will give new life to Jackson.

The well-meaning but morally misguided couple have no idea of the dark forces they're messing around with, and in their attempts to bring back Jackson they unleash a variety of demons, varying from an ambidextrous man with a suffocating plastic bag wrapped around his head to a young boy clad in a ghost bedsheet Halloween outfit. Along with these minions of Satan, Audrey and Helen also have to deal with more earthly threats, like the local handyman (Yannick Bisson) who insists on clearing snow from their drive and the police officer (Lanette Ware) investigating Becker's disappearance.

anything for jackson review

Anything for Jackson boasts one of the year's most original and intriguing setups, which makes it all the more disappointing that it never quite lives up to its premise. Many of the film's issues come from its inconsistent tone. It's a horror comedy, but the horror and comedy never quite blend together organically. Instead we'll get one scene that plays it straight followed by another that enters the realm of Sam Raimi-esque "splatstick." This lack of seriousness sucks much of the potential for suspense out of the scenario.

Dyck's film is certainly most successful when playing its premise straight. McCarthy and Richings are veteran character actors whose faces you'll likely recognise, but who are rarely afforded roles as meaty as those of Audrey and Henry. They commit themselves fully here and the strength of their performances goes a long way to making us empathise with their actions, even if we can't condone them. The couple's loss and heartbreak are so palpable that we really do start to ask ourselves some ethically uncomfortable questions. Just as we gasp for Norman Bates when Marion Crane's car seems like it may not sink in the swamp, so too do we find ourselves worrying that Audrey and Henry might get caught.

anything for jackson review

We should really be rooting for Becker to escape her predicament, but the movie doesn't seem half as interested in her plight as it is in that of her abductors. A minimum of suspense or tension is generated from Becker's haphazard attempts to extricate herself from her captivity.

Dyck's CV consists largely of TV movies, mostly of the Hallmark Christmas variety. Anything for Jackson has the flat look of such fare, which actually works in its favour to a degree as it cements the idea that something very odd is going on in the middle of a perfectly nondescript small town. Unfortunately this flatness is carried over to the film's scare scenes, and while Anything for Jackson is innovative in its premise, in its execution it's anything but.

Anything for Jackson
 is on Shudder from December 3rd.

2020 movie reviews