By Scott Dorward
Anything For Jackson (Canada, 2020)
Anything For Jackson is a last-minute addition to my list. I had originally planned to review Strip Nude For Your Killer today, but decided I was in the mood for something a bit more contemporary. Anything For Jackson had garnered some good reviews. And given the podcast, how could I pass up on a name like that?
Audrey and Henry are a perfectly pleasant couple of senior citizens living in suburban Canada. Henry is a GP, working at a small surgery, and Audrey is an old-fashioned homemaker. They are also devout Satanists, performing regular black masses with their coven at the local community centre. Satanism isn’t just a religion for them, however — it is a means to an end. And that end is bringing their beloved grandson Jackson back from the dead.
After procuring an ancient grimoire, Audrey and Henry have learned the basics of necromancy and demonology. They decide to put this knowledge to work, kidnapping one of Henry’s patients, Becker, a pregnant woman with no family ties. Using their limited understanding of black magic, the couple attempt to bind the spirit of their dead grandson into Becker’s unborn child.
Of course, this goes horribly wrong and their home becomes infested with spirits of the unquiet dead. Can Audrey and Henry turn things around? Will Becker manage to escape? And is it really a good idea to call upon that one creepy coven member for help? Things are going to get nasty.
I am a sucker for villains with sympathetic motivations. While grieving relatives trying to raise loved ones from the dead is a horror staple, Anything For Jackson portrays it well enough to feel fresh. The simple matter of Audrey and Henry being grandparents changes the dynamic, their age making them seem harmless and trustworthy. Even when they do the most horrible things, we can’t help but root for them on some level. They’re just so damn nice.
Their situation is made all the more compelling by just how out of their depth they are. These are two grieving people, driven to extreme action, using tools they only think they understand. While we may sympathise with their desperation, it only leads to greater and greater suffering.
One of the ghosts haunting Audrey and Henry’s home is played by Troy James, a contortionist who has made a career playing movie monsters. While his weird, disjointed way of scuttling across the ground is unnerving, it’s become overused. My reaction when he appeared here was less revulsion and more just, “Oh, it’s him again.”
On the other hand, that old woman who keeps flossing her teeth out? She’s creepy!
While Anything For Jackson isn’t in the running for my pick of the month, it is a solid, entertaining horror film. More importantly, it is a fine example of how weird, nasty, supernatural horror has made a comeback. The premise feels like it might have come from a lurid ’80s paperback with a leering demon on the cover. How Anything For Jackson differs from the horrors of the ’80s, however, is that it takes its subject matter more seriously. That is not to say that Anything For Jackson is devoid of humour, just that it is surprisingly straight-faced. Its characters are eccentric, but they’re not jokes. The ghosts and demons are genuinely scary and not even slightly campy. This is a dark story told in a spirit of fun.
The October Horror Movie Challenge
Please do join in and share your own thoughts with us about this or any other films as the month goes on. You can usually find us on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, or lurking in the dark corners of your home.
If you would like to play along at home, my provisional selections are:
- Possessor (2020)
- The Boogey Man (1980)
- Jakob’s Wife (2021)
- The Queen of Black Magic (2019)
- Cold Hell (2017)
- Seance (2021)
- The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
- Dachra (2018)
- Isle of the Dead (1945)
- After Midnight (2019)
- The Baby (1973)
- Hagazussa (2017)
- Frightmare (1974)
- The Eyes of My Mother (2016)
- Dave Made a Maze (2017)
- Raw (2016)
- The Old Ways (2020)
- Terror Train (1980)
- mon mon mon MONSTERS (2017)
- Sator (2019)
- Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)
- The Lighthouse (2019)
- Anything For Jackson (2020)
- Warning: Do Not Play (Amjeon) (2019)
- Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
- The Field Guide to Evil (2019)
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
- The Wizard of Gore (1970)
- Fingers (2019)
- Lake Bodom (2016)
- Island of Lost Souls (1932)
A Final Note
If you have been enticed here by these posts, please do look around at some of our other film reviews. We also have a podcast, called The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, which occasionally covers horror films. If this appeals, you might want to check out some of the following episodes.
- The Changeling
- The Endless
- Our favourite Cthulhu Mythos media
- The Fly
- A Dark Song
- The Thing
- The Ritual
- The Wicker Man
- The Stone Tape
- Event Horizon
- The Witch
- INLAND EMPIRE
- Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions
- Maléfique and The Ninth Gate
- Re-Animator and From Beyond
- Repulsion and The Babdook
- Man Bites Dog, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and S&man
- A selection of weird films
- David Cronenberg
- The films that scared us most
If you dig through the archives, you will also find episodes about a wide variety of horror stories and games. Happy nightmares!