ANYTHING FOR JACKSON (2020) Reviews and overview

 

‘Fear your elders’

Anything for Jackson is a 2020 Canadian horror feature film about a couple that put the spirit of their dead grandson into an unborn child.

Directed by Justin G. Dyck from a screenplay written by Keith Cooper, the Vortex Words Pictures production stars Sheila McCarthy (Isabelle; Level 16; Still/Born), Julian Richings (Hall; Spare Parts; True Fiction; et al) Konstantina Mantelos and Yannick Bisson (Another WolfCop). The movie was produced by Bill Marks (Wolfcop), Christopher Giroux (I’ll Take Your Dead), Keith Cooper and aforementioned Justin G. Dyck.

Plot:

After losing their only grandson in a car accident, grief-stricken Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry (Julian Richings), a doctor, kidnaps his pregnant patient with the intentions of performing a “reverse exorcism”, putting Jackson inside her unborn child.

It doesn’t take long to figure out Jackson isn’t the only ghost the grandparents invited into their home. Now it’s a race against time for the couple, as well as the pregnant woman to figure a way out of the haunting they’ve set upon themselves.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …skillfully navigates the black comedy and horror elements (including some outstanding creature designs), while rooting all of the insanity in the couple’s grief and Becker’s insane predicament. With strong performances, a completely unpredictable script, and some truly unsettling moments, Anything for Jackson is a thrillingly strange ride.” Bad Feeling Magazine

“Considering Dyck and Cooper’s extensive background working on children’s and Hallmark holiday films, Anything for Jackson is an unexpected, but mostly successful, foray into horror. Despite losing its focus in the back half, McCarthy and Richards deliver great lead performances that – coupled with a creepy ghost design and some genuinely unsettling moments – makes Anything for Jackson a worthwhile twist on the exorcism/possession subgenre.” Bloody Disgusting

” …the practical effects and the body horror of it all work extremely well against the dreary setting and the house which serves as the main setting of the film offers an intimacy with Henry and Audrey that is beyond claustrophobic. Sadly, the last act of the film lacks the charm and focus of the first two. That said Anything for Jackson offers up enough horror entertainment to make it a must-watch for any genre fan.” But Why Tho?

” …it’s best to set aside a pinch of patience while remaining confident tension will explode when it’s ready. The film isn’t just unsettling and occasionally humorous. It makes moments of honest drama out of death, despondency, and emotional trauma, often through thoughtful quips like, “People say ‘sorry’ instead of fixing things,” and all while keeping everything balanced on an enjoyable edge of darkly unusual horror.” Culture Crypt

“there’s a streak of affecting drama that emanates from the main pair, a well-to-do couple scarred by tragedy who ultimately want to do something good but by any means necessary. Altogether, it’s a richer devil’s brew than you would expect, crisply edited and moodily shot – even if the last act doesn’t quite hit the spot.” The Guardian

“Beyond Jackson’s casual and shocking violence, the story is rooted in some heartfelt and vulnerable performances that invite our sympathies for almost everyone involved. Richings’ Henry brings his emotional torture to the forefront. We know he isn’t as keen on the plan as Audrey from the get-go, but his love for her is just as apparent as his internal struggle with the ritual. He is, aside from the demons themselves, my favorite performance on offer.” Killer Horror Critic

“All the way to its bleak and dreadful conclusion, Anything for Jackson proves once again that iteration can be the key to innovation. Dyck and Cooper aren’t re-inventing possession movies, but they come pretty close. The inclusion of the more comedic elements are well placed and keep things from getting too dark to be commercially viable.” Modern Horrors

” …this is not only a scathingly sharp commentary on social power structures but also an extremely effective horror movie. Ranging from a simple ghostly sheet to truly horrific creations realised with impressive practical effects, the apparitions that appear in Henry and Audrey’s home are deeply unsettling, making Anything for Jackson a film that gets under the skin…” Our Culture

” …a film that is filled with plenty of horror, from the original idea of what the couple wants, right up to the first few events that start happening around the home. They all play off slow, but they don’t hold back on the horrific nature that is filled with the terrifying behavior of the ghosts involved. There are some amazing creations with the suffocating ghost being the highlight…” Ready Steady Cut!

“There’s an inevitability to Anything for Jackson that forces Cooper into something of a corner—no one who has seen a movie expects this plan to work. And so the climax doesn’t have the power of the midsection, especially as another character gets a bit too heavily involved in the action. However, it holds together largely because of the committed performances of the cast.” RogerEbert.com

“Dyck’s ability to balance an incredibly dark sense of humor with the deeply disturbing emotional implications of what the Walsh family are trying to accomplish is commendable. Anything for Jackson is never laugh-out-loud funny, but there is a definite absurd comedy to the whole thing, which is helpful in maintaining a kind of tonal equilibrium that keeps the film from getting too heavy.” Screen Anarchy

” …Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings […] remain quite likable, despite the fact that they are performing evil deeds. Add a number of impressive ghosts, and a gore gag involving a snowblower, and Anything for Jackson makes for a quite entertaining film.” Sean Kelly on Movies

“Where the filmmakers take this utterly lovely couple making incredibly ugly decisions is fascinating, primarily because of McCarthy and Richings’s performances. They’re not alone. As their involuntary helpmate, Konstantina Mantelos creates a character in a role that rarely offers that opportunity. There’s a clean simplicity in the storytelling that’s appealing, although Act 3 is not nearly as clearly defined or interesting as the balance of the film.” UK Film Review

“While I do wish Anything for Jackson had kept its focus on the original plotline it is never less than a good, scary movie. It just happens to be so much better when it’s breaking some new ground. However, in the end, I can’t be anything but impressed that Dyck and Cooper managed to pull off a genuinely scary exorcism film. It has some nice touches with a subplot involving an inquisitive detective…” Voices from the Balcony

” …horror films are, by their very nature, not known for their plausible plotlines, but the incomprehensibility and illogicality of certain motivations in Anything for Jackson makes it particularly irksome […] For all that, horror fans will probably find the ride an entertaining enough one, but it lacks the substance or the script to really make an impression on the genre.” The Wee Review

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Release:

Anything for Jackson premiered on September 1st 2020, at the Fantasia film festival. From December 3rd the film is streaming on Shudder.

Cast and characters:

Sheila McCarthy … Audrey Walsh
Julian Richings … Henry Walsh
Konstantina Mantelos … Becker
Yannick Bisson … Rory
Josh Cruddas … Ian
Daxton William Lund … Jackson
Mikaela Bisson … Charlotte
Claire Cavalheiro … Talia
Scott Cavalheiro … Colin
Rebecca Lamarche … Vanth
Kaitlyn Leeb … Yolanda
Ai Barrett … Trick or Treat Ghost #1
Troy James … Suffocating Ghost
Ryan Christopher Kotack … Bird Man
Marianne Sawchuk … Flossing Ghost

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