THE JACK IN THE BOX / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: LAWRENCE FOWLER / STARRING: ETHAN TAYLOR, ROBERT NAIRNE, LUCY-JANE QUINLAN / RELEASE DATE: FEB 2020
A fun concept is executed well in this low budget British horror from director Lawrence Fowler. However, as can be the curse with the more thrifty side of the genre, it sags in the middle and starts to get a little trying as the scenarios and locations fail to change. The one thing they clearly worked on the most, is making sure the monster itself looks menacing and imposing, and they certainly succeeded there.
We start with an effective prologue, set to haunting music, of an old man discovering the Jack in the Box while metal detecting, but it soon turns sinister, with a cloven hand killing his wife and dragging her into the box, we quickly cut to American Casey (Taylor), turning up for his first day of work at a small museum in the British village of Hawthorn. Strangely enough he is a museum and history enthusiast, unlike his co-worker Lisa (Quinlan) who has been in the village all her life and is coasting. It is never totally clear what type of museum it actually is, looking more like a country house, it has a war and a toy exhibit though, and soon Casey discovers a large antique Jack in the Box, which he proceeds to open. This is an action he will come to regret, as people start dying pretty quickly, including two hapless thieves, what they thought they could steal from this tiny museum, is not made clear. We are quickly introduced to our Jack, a tall clown with razor sharp teeth and a terrifying smile, it genuinely looks great, and is backed up by some fun exposition in the form of Internet searching, where we learn Jack’s are a type of demon from France that need to kill a certain amount of people before becoming dormant once again.
Just as the film starts to become enjoyable, the pace slows and you desperately want to see the actors in another location and the film to develop quicker. The Jack also doesn’t kill people in an inventive way, usually just grabbing them by the head, until death. After a tragic backstory for Casey gives him motivation, we do get back on track, and armed with the wisdom of a Demonologist played by Tom Carter, he sets off to destroy the Jack once and for all.
Welshman Fowler, who is still relatively new to the horror genre, does a decent job here, trying to develop his titular villain and make the most out of the budget and locations he has to work with. The monster design is good and some of the action scenes are set up well, with a bit more money and some faster pacing, The Jack In the Box could of really given us something exciting, although it never quite gets there, it would be perfect for an anthology of movies on Halloween night, and you never know, Jack just may be back!