Anything For Jackson is a Shudder Original from Canadian filmmaker Justin G. Dyck and written by Keith Cooper. The film stars Julian Richings, Sheila McCarthy, and Konstantina Mantelos. The film blends dark humor with intense moments and acting that somehow manages to keep the film wandering into the land of absurd horror-comedy. It instead pushes it into an uncanny and unnerving film that blends hauntings, possessions, demons and executes a reverse exorcism that I hadn’t seen before now.
In Anything For Jackson, Audrey and Henry are grief-stricken after losing their only grandson, Jackson, in a car accident. But what better way to work through your grief than making a plan to get over it. What do they have in mind? Having Henry kidnap his pregnant patient with the intention of performing a “Reverse Exorcism”, putting Jackson inside her unborn child. While this may seem like a spoiler, this is what happens immediately at the start of the movie before Jackson, a demon, a magical book, and a Satanic cult take center stage in the narrative. But through twists and errors, it turns out that Jackson isn’t the only ghost the grandparents invited into their home. What begins as a reverse exorcism ends in a race against time for the couple, as well as the pregnant woman to figure a way out of the haunting they’ve set upon themselves.
This film is an intersection of many elements of horror. Cults, religion, confinement, hauntings, all have a place in the narrative and it’s simple to say that there is a lot going on in Anything For Jackson. Yet, the film has a clear vision and ties together each element through phenomenal characters, specifically Henry and Audry. Richings and McCarthy’s performances pull what could have been an exhaustingly sporadic narrative into a narrowed story that focuses on the pair, their pain, and how their blind hope in the supernatural offers them a way to kill their grief. It just so happens, it also kills others in the process.
The gray palette and serious characters help maintain tension even when the film’s dark humor shines. This helps keep a balance from moving the film into something ala Little Evil and keeps it focused on the grief and what it can drive people to do. There is desperation peppered throughout the humor that grounds it, allowing it to offer comedic relief, as the accident with a certain piece of lawn equipment while still allowing the film to maintain a tense narrative. Richings though, is the true hear of the film, delivering a performance that is delightful. And his chemistry with McCarthy is noteworthy especially in the opening act where we see the pair checking if their “precautions” have paid off, and showcasing how carefully they planned the abduction.
Additionally, the practical effects and the body horror of it all work extremely well against the dreary setting and the house which serves as the main setting of the film offers an intimacy with Henry and Audrey that is beyond claustrophobic. Sadly, the last act of the film lacks the charm and focus of the first two. That said Anything For Jackson offers up enough horror entertainment to make it a must-watch for any genre fan. While it fumbles a perfect execution, the build-up is solid and worthy of praise.
Anything For Jackson is now streaming exclusively on Shudder.
Anything For Jackson
Sadly, the last act of the film lacks the charm and focus of the first two. That said Anything For Jackson offers up enough horror entertainment to make it a must-watch for any genre fan. While it fumbles a perfect execution, the build-up is solid and worthy of praise.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.