Writer: Jared Rivet (Screenplay)
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Deborah Kara Unger, Johnathon Schaech, Alyssa Julya Smith, Jason Scott Jenkins, Nico Roux, Chelsea Ricketts
Plot: Set in the 1980s, an estranged family hires a cult deprogrammer to take back their teenage son from a murderous cult, but find themselves under siege when the cultists surround their cabin, demanding the boy back.
Tagline – Family First
Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Disturbing Home Invasion Movie
Story: Jackals starts as Jimmy Levine (Dorff) is hired to help the Powell family, Kathy (Unger), Andrew (Schaech) whose son Justin (Sullivan) has turned his back on his family including his girlfriend Samantha (Ricketts) and daughter, has joined a cult. Jimmy is hired to help deprogram him for the beliefs he now has.
The cult Justin has joined aren’t going to let one of their brothers be taken so easily, which sees them target the house, with Justin claiming that they have come for the baby, the family must put aside their differences to work together fighting for their loved ones.
Thoughts on Jackals
Characters – Jimmy Levine has been deprogramming cult members for years, after being part of one before, he will push Justin, but this time he may have met his match. Kathy is the mother of the family, she has turned to drink after her marriage fell apart, she does enjoy the grandmother role though. Andrew is the father that brings in Jimmy, willing to face his own mistakes to save his son from the cult. Justin is the son that joined the cult, he believes he is part of a new family and they have come in search for his baby daughter to join the cult.
Performances – We do have a couple of well-known actors in this film, Stephen Dorff, Deborah Kara Unger and Johnathon Schaech being the big three, the problem is with the story, the three actors struggle to make the impact in this film they could have. Nobody gets to make the most of their work in this film apart from the cult members that makes us feel like we are watching the creepy crazed figures.
Story – The story follows a family try to save their son from a cult he joined, only the cult isn’t accepting one of their members to leaving, even if he doesn’t want to leave. This does take a spin on the home invasion film because we have a ready made established member of the cult being taken against his will, the cult size is scary big with the action against being deadly. The problems with the story come from the idea that we don’t learn the true motives of the people in the cult, why he joined them in the first place and with the ending feeling like they just ran out of money. This story has so much more potential, it feels like something was just missing in the execution as the ending is completely rushed.
Horror – The horror in the film comes from just what the cult is willing to do, they will make you feel uneasy every time they are just stood in the shadows, this is easily the highlight of the film. we are left to keep guessing on just what will happen in the film too.
Settings – The film is set in a cabin the woods, we have no signal, the cars are the only way out, but taken away early meaning the family is isolated and trapped, perfect for what the cult want to do to them.
Special Effects – The effects in the film are solid enough, we see most of the aftermath of any damage, which the one time we get to see the shocking damage we can easily turn away from that.
Final Thoughts – This is a horror film that was filled with potential, we could have seen so much more even if the horror side of the film is the highlight of the film.
Overall: Disturbing, yet unfulfilling horror.