With a history of made-for-TV, festive-themed fare aimed at the hangover tolerant daytime schedules so prevalent in the Christmas holidays, director Justin G. Dyck and screenwriter Keith Cooper could have been forgiven for fumbling the premise to their new movie. But with Anything for Jackson, they have thrown out the watery eggnog and submerged themselves in something considerably stronger and darker.
Grieving grandparents Andrey and Henry Walsh (Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings, respectively) join a Satanist group, make a pact with the devil and kidnap one of Henry’s pregnant patients with a view to bringing their dead grandson back to life. A simple enough plan, but inevitably they have misunderstood the required text, mis-performed the ritual, and unleashed their own suburban hell.
Dyck and Cooper waste little time in getting started. Within minutes of being introduced to the malevolently endearing twosome going about their domestic niceties, we know about their penchant for kidnapping and cloak wearing. And it is all very darkly comedic. But very soon the tone shifts, and events quickly escalate into something more reminiscent of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.
In lesser hands, Anything for Jackson could have descended into a mildly amusing, horror-farce but Dyck and Cooper have made it work. The direction is unsettling simple, Tarantino-like at times, drawing your eye toward hidden corners of the darkly lit screen. The script is sharp and to the point, with little unnecessary dialogue, and enjoyably vague allowing the viewer to imagine their own horrific reasoning.
An impressive ‘anti-Christmas’ movie.
Where to watch: Shudder