Engaging Anything for Jackson (2020) Unleashes a Reverse Possession
Title: Anything for Jackson
First Wide Release: October 28, 2020 (TV Premiere)
Director: Justin G. Dyck
Writer: Keith Cooper
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Starring: Sheila McCarthy, Julian Richings, Konstantina Mantelos
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A young, pregnant woman is lured to the home of an elderly couple before being knocked out and chained to a bed in a child’s playroom. Quickly, she realizes that her doctor is the one behind her abduction, but instead of murder or other perverse interests, the couple assures her that they mean no harm. In fact, they promise that they will not hurt her and release her once she gives birth. She wasn’t sure if wanted her baby in the first place, but she has an internal dilemma surrounding the situation, and that’s before weird things start happening in her new room. Unbeknownst to her, she has been kidnapped by a Satanist couple that plan on reincarnating their dead grandson’s spirit into her unborn child. With mostly romantic comedies and Christmas movies to his name, director Justin G. Dyck offers up a weird slice of demonic dread with Anything for Jackson.
An odd, yet spellbinding venture, Anything for Jackson is a well-crafted haunter that rises to the potential of its offbeat premise.
Anything for Jackson kicks off with a bang, as we witness the seemingly sweet Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry (Julian Richings) abduct Becker (Konstantina Mantelos). Slowly we begin to understand their reasoning behind the kidnapping and what has driven them to such drastic measures. Playing out in a non-linear manner, we learn piece by piece how the couple got the information they needed to pull off a reverse exorcism and what the events that led to them breaking down fully enough to do it. The timing of these transitions aren't always clean or obvious so it takes some extra diligence to stay vigilant.
McCarthy and Richings capture the grief and determination to get back their grandson through their exceptional performances. The motivations of the couple feel grounded in reality enough to make the plot plausible and heartbreakingly real. Becker gets sidelined for their character development, which, to me, is fine. She is the one to root for in the story, but it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for the bereaved couple too.
Anything for Jackson does a great job of subverting expectations and misdirecting the audience. The entire film is built on a premise that is rather unique compared to other possession films. Within the film itself, there are plenty of moments where the audience is tricked into a feeling of safety or misdirected sense of fear when danger is coming. There were multiple points within the film when my jaw dropped at what happened. The team behind the film does great work here and should get credit for making such a viscerally strong experience.
While Anything for Jackson is an incredibly well-done film ripe with dark humor and (mostly) outstanding special effects, it could have gone much further with its premise. A more developed backstory could improve the second act, which suffered a bit from pacing issues. The ending, in particular, is underwhelming especially for what starts off as a quirky and interesting flick. It’s disappointing that the storyline gets more familiar the closer you get to the end.
Its message of coping with grief lands well, if, again, it is well-tread. Anchored by the performances of its stars, Anything for Jackson shows the consequences of messing with things that shouldn’t be messed with. What all does the couple sacrifice to return their grandson to this world? It starts with their time being consumed with his memory. Then, they turn to the supernatural to ease their burden. They give up their home, their retirement, and their security as they plan to make a run for it after the deed is done. They do terrible things in the name of bringing Jackson back including kidnapping an innocent woman and partnering up with an unhinged member of their temple. Anything for Jackson shows this gradual breakdown and acceptance that life will never return to normal for these people unless they learn to let go and move on with their lives.
I found myself wanting more by the end of my viewing of Anything for Jackson. It’s a great horror feature peppered in with memorable scares and disturbing imagery and I commend the cast and crew for making something so interesting. While it wasn’t my flavor of horror and it didn’t take as many risks as it could have, particularly in the third act, Anything for Jackson is a great choice for anyone seeking out a paranormal thriller for their next watch. It’s received much support from the horror community, so I could very well be the one out of step here! If you’re possessed to check it out, I hope you enjoy it!
Overall Score? 6.5/10