Review by Camden Ferrell
Anything for Jackson is a horror film that had its premiere at the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival. It is the newest film from director Justin G. Dyck, a veteran director of many Hallmark Christmas movies. His first attempt at horror starts strong but unfortunately descends into a narrative mess that lacks thrills and cohesion.
In this film, Audrey and Henry grieve the death of their grandson, Jackson. To rectify their loss, they kidnap one of Henry’s pregnant patients in order to perform a reverse exorcism in an attempt to revive their grandson. This is a really interesting premise that puts a twist on the exorcism genre, but unfortunately the film doesn’t live up to the potential of its premise.
The script, written by Keith Cooper, another Hallmark veteran, is pretty dull. The dialogue feels cliché and uninspired, and it doesn’t ever make an attempt to be original. While this problem could have easily been compensated by some thrills and tension, it unfortunately never happens, and this screenplay is forgettable at best.
The performances are also fairly forgettable and don’t do much to enhance the film. The one exception seems to be Konstantina Mantelos who plays the pregnant woman being held captive. She does play the role very well and she does a great job conveying the character’s terror and transcendent anguish. Sadly, the rest of the cast doesn’t match her talents, and it leads to an underwhelming experience.
The movie starts out fairly strong with an opening act that is intriguing. It is quick to start, and it foregoes a lot of exposition that usually drags down horror films. However, the film quickly loses momentum in its second act, and the third act becomes a narrative mess in order to compensate for this.
The film incorporates many ideas like exorcisms and satanic rituals, but it feels contrived more than anything. It reuses horror tropes that don’t do much to elevate suspense, and it falls short of scary fairly often. There are some interesting visual effects in the film and some creepy imagery, but it doesn’t make up for the lack of scares and thrills.
Ultimately, this is an unsatisfying movie that may appeal to some die-hard horror fans and not much else. It’s not the best horror debut for Dyck, but hopefully he returns to genre for a sophomore feature that could be better.
Anything for Jackson is a misguided attempt at horror through the lens of grief. It may feature a singular good performance, but it’s underwhelming, unnatural, and fairly bland.
Anything for Jackson will be released on Shudder December 3.