Directed by: Justin G. Dyck
Premise: An older couple who lost their grandson in an accident attempt to resurrect the boy with black magic. They kidnap a pregnant woman and intend to infuse her developing baby with their dead grandson’s soul.
What Works: Anything for Jackson is an inventive play on the cult and possession genres. Cult films are usually about complicated underground organizations that infiltrate and corrupt social institutions. The cult of Anything for Jackson is very much on the surface. Its membership is small and made of average people who gather at the local library. Possession films are generally infection stories; they’re about something getting inside of us and taking over our identity. Anything for Jackson retains that core idea but presents it differently; this possession is engineered and the characterization of the couple distinguish this picture from other possession films. Rather than masters of the dark arts, the cultists of Anything for Jackson are amateurs and that allows for humor that is simultaneously funny and disturbing. The motives are also relatable. While viewers probably won’t agree with what the couple are doing, they are empathetic and that adds a unique quality to the horror of this film. The pathos appeal of Anything for Jackson works as well as it does because of the central performances by Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings as the bereaved older couple. They are convincing as two people who have been married for a long time and McCarty and Richings play their characters as normal people whose grief has led them to a series of terrible decisions. Also remarkable is Konstantina Mantelos as the kidnaped mother. She is convincingly afraid and her terror is contagious, allowing the audience to empathize with her fear. Also notable is Josh Cruddas as an occultist who advises the couple. Cruddas is funny but also frightening in his instability. Anything for Jackson is very spooky. The film lacks any elaborate set pieces but this is a good example of how scary simplicity can be and the practical effects are executed in ways that give the movie a creepy vibe.
What Doesn’t: Anything for Jackson suffers from a padded story. The film includes some side characters, namely a police detective played by Lanette Ware, who don’t serve much of a story function. The supernatural elements are also a bit arbitrary. As ghosts and other supernatural specters appear around the house, they interfere with the living in ways that come across random or are used to get the filmmakers out of a narrative jam.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: Anything for Jackson balances scares with a wry sense of humor. Its credible approach to the story and empathetic characters give the movie a canted tone that makes it a unique cult and possession picture.
Episode: #872 (October 10, 2021)