JACKALS [FrightFest Review]

PrintE-mail Written by John Higgins

The Frightfest provides a mix of the good, the bad and the indifferent. Over the years there have been many moments where you wish it could have gone better for the filmmakers.

At one screening during the festival’s tenure at the Odeon West End in 2007, director Uwe Boll had a moment of concern when an audience member stood up after a double-bill screening of Postal and Seed and openly criticised the filmmaker for what he made, though to be fair the rest of us did wonder why such a person was at Frightfest, considering that you knowingly buy a weekend pass to sample some gory and extreme delights. This is not a Disney weekend, so bemusement at the individual’s reaction was understandable.

Then, in 2012, there was Tulpa, a giallo film that premiered so soon after completion and prompted unintentional giggles amongst the audience, leading to a rather awkward Q and A session.

The laziest entry in this year’s event was Jackals and the second film after Leatherface to star Stephen Dorff. In this one he plays a cult deprogrammer who has brought the wayward son of a rurally based family back to their bosom after nailing him at the roadside. However, it isn’t before long that the cult he has been a part of for a while have sent a delegation to reclaim their ‘son’, leading to a stand-off between his family and the cult…

At the outset, Jackals looks like it is going to take the story in a different direction. Cults in cinema have been used quite effectively recently with films like Martha Marcy May Marlene with Elizabeth Olsen and there is potential to expand this story to focus on the after-effects of being within a cult and the emotional drive that could lead somebody to consequences beyond their control.

Unfortunately, you can anticipate what is going to happen, once shadowy individuals a la The Fog start to appear in the family’s back garden. It’s an old trick and has been used in the likes of House On The Edge Of The Park, Funny Games and other home invasion films over the last few decades.

The cast try hard, but the audience will inevitably feel cheated because of the tried-and-tested format of such a film like this.

In the context of the festival, there are intelligent and constructive discussions between the films by the attendees and every film is assessed and analysed for their strengths and weaknesses. The appeal of the Weekend Pass is that it allows you to look at a whole host of movies from across the filmmaking community. Jackals was certainly one of those films that was not making it into any of the fan’s best-of lists.

Jackals will probably become a fixture on the streaming market and the filmmakers and cast will doubtlessly move onto more rewarding and better work.

JACKALS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: KEVIN GRUETERT / SCREENPLAY: JARED RIVET / STARRING: STEPHEN DORFF, DEBORAH KARA UNGER, JOHNATHON SCHAECH / RELEASE DATE: OFFICIAL UK RELEASE TBA



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