Review: Jackals Is An Eerie Look Into The Meaning Of Family

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This is one of those titles that just snuck up on America. Not much advertising, no official trailers in theatres, just word of mouth and a bit of research online. Most horror fans who follow upcoming movie news knows about this and that is how I found out about this film. Not knowing much about it all I could tell from the trailer is that it’s sort of a home invasion movie with mask killers, a cabin, a family, and a battle to the death.

Jackals is the first of many horror movies coming out in Sept. This is not a sequel to the Bruce Willis movie The Jackal. This homage to the 80’s is a creepy and somewhat sad story of a family led by parents Kathy and Andrew Powell, played by Deborah Kara Unger and Johnathon Schaech respectively who hires a man, Jimmy, a professional who helps rehabilitate people who have lost their way through unethical methods. Against his will, Justin, their son is taken to their family cabin to undergo an intervention to leave the cult but shortly after his cult family are there to bring him back and kill anyone that gets in their way leaving the family to defend themselves by any means necessary.

Right from the start you see exactly what the Jackals are capable of and why it’s so important for this family to want to get their son away from them as possible. There are some intense moments that happen in this film and more than once depict the desperation one has for a loved one. Part of why this movie is unsettling at times is because this family has no idea who they are up against and as the movie plays on, we find out along with them just how much trouble they got themselves into.

jackals father and son

The acting from the cast is questionable. Some of the dialogue and chemistry with the family is a little laughable but it’s difficult to figure out exactly the source of the disconnection. Maybe some of the lines delivered were meant to be funny because the Powell’s have no idea what they are doing or it was hard for the actors to keep the suspense and dark feeling for them intact 100%. Mostly just chuckles here and there but you still feel a bit on the edge of your seat as this family bans together to protect their own.

Aside from the obvious horror element that is displayed in this movie, there is a bit of a sadness with it. As the movie goes on, the feature explores on the ties that binds. You also start to question exactly what family means to you and what is best for a loved one. Jackals shows a man torn between his blood relatives and the family he created for himself while being with his cult brothers and sisters. No matter what happens, you can see the love this family has for one another but also each one wants to use this opportunity to wash away the sins they feel they need to be redeemed and forgiven for to get on with their lives and attempt at being happy.

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The scares are there. This is a movie that doesn’t involve monsters or the supernatural, just real people after other real people and combined with madness and the strong belief in something is what makes this movie good. You could get a bit frustrated with some if not all the decisions made by the family in their attempt to get through the night but overall this was a fun movie to watch. Its short and uncomplicated and you know just enough about the characters to keep you interested. It does have a little bit of a slow beginning to get to the point of the movie and why most of you are watching the movie. Once the battle starts it doesn’t stop till the end. When the movie is over, you will ask yourself, “How far will you go to protect your family and those that don’t want to be saved?”

3 ½ out of 5

Writer Jared Rivet, who is a big fan of the horror genre, just happened to be at the showing that I went to here in LA and it almost felt like a cult following in the theatre as there were lots of cheers for the writer who is known for writing more shorts than full length features. This is news I didn’t know about until the movie was over and everyone cheered for him as his name popped up on the screen. With a mixed audience of fans and people who knew him combined with everyday horror fans sat in wait to see exactly why no one got up from their seats as the credits rolled. It almost felt wrong and disrespectful to get up and leave or there would be a price to pay. Nonetheless, it was a great accomplishment for the writer and also in the auditorium was one of the actresses featured in the film, Chelsea Ricketts, who did a great job playing the girlfriend of the cult member who had a lot to lose if they couldn’t bring him back.

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