ANYTHING FOR JACKSON, the latest film from director Justin G. Dyck, centers around a set of grief-stricken grandparents who are willing to do anything to get back their only grandson. The film stars Sheila McCarthy (The Umbrella Academy), Julian Richings (Orphan Black), Konstantina Mantelos (A Christmas Crush), Josh Cruddas (Polar), and Yannick Bisson (Another Wolfcop).
In ANYTHING FOR JACKSON, after losing their only grandson in a car accident, grief stricken Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry (Julian Richings), a doctor, kidnap his pregnant patient with the intensions of performing a “reverse Exorcism”, putting Jackson inside her unborn child. It doesn’t take long to figure out Jackson isn’t the only ghost the grandparents invited into their home.
When I think of Elder horror, I think of films such as 2014’s The Taking of Deborah Logan, 2015’s The Visit, and 2020’s Relic. In these films, the supernatural horror gives way to the realistic fear of aging and sickness. However, in Justin G. Dyck’s ANYTHING FOR JACKSON, writer Keith Cooper takes the elder trope and adds his own flavor to it with a good ole smack of Satanism to sweeten the deal.
As soon as the film begins we are introduced to Audrey and Henry as they navigate the world of grief while coming to terms with the loss of their grandson. Actors Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings are delightful to watch in the film. Sure, they do some questionable things…okay some REALLY BAD things, but also, they’ll bake you cookies so how can you say no to that? Obviously, the cost of a life is more than cookies, but McCarthy and Richings ride that line of being sugary sweet while embarking on a horrific crime in order to bring back the one they love. Their intention is grounded in grief and though no one would agree with their choices to perform a “reverse Exorcism” it’s understandable why the thought would cross their minds. Grief makes us do the craziest things.
What I enjoyed so much about performance was it felt real. Even when all the crazy shit begins to happen, and believe me it gets crazy, their determination to get back the grandchild they lost felt palpable. The chemistry between McCarthy and Richings also works because it evokes a genuine sense of care and love that they have towards one another. Also, I’ve got to hand it to the two of them for taking on lots of gore, especially McCarthy in one of the most chilling scenes of the movie which will tap into anyone’s fears of the dentist (or flossing).
As much as I enjoyed both McCarthy and Richings performance, I do have to say the biggest surprise was from Josh Cruddas, who plays Ian, the emo Satan-worshipping acquittance of the grandparents. Because Ian has extensive knowledge in the way of Satanism, he eventually agrees to help the couple with their reversed exorcism, after the couple realizes they have made some mistakes along the way. Though I did despise the character of Ian, Cruddas’ performance was fantastic mostly due to Cruddas’ impressive change in behavior as the film goes on.
As for the story itself, I enjoyed it and found it to be quite entertaining watching this older couple experience a series of unfortunate, albeit deadly, events. I really enjoyed the presentation and look of the film especially with how director Justin G. Dyck utilized the couple’s vast home as a prison of sorts. One scene in particular was framed to give the viewer the impression that our hostage, Becker, played by Konstantina Mantelos, was behind bars. It really helped drive the narrative that even though this beautifully stunning house is a sight to behold, both in its look and stature in society, the terror is more than real the deeper inside you look.
As for the story itself, I liked it a lot and was engaged for most of it. That said, I do feel like there was some uneven pacing towards the end of the film when everything starts going haywire. That said, though there were a lot of competing elements, the practical effects are strong enough to gain your attention so as to disregard some of the more convoluted moments in the film. Furthermore, the tone of the film changes drastically towards the end of the film, going from a creepy, goofy feel at the start and ending with a more dramatic, serious tone.
Overall, ANYTHING FOR JACKSON is quite the hidden gem. It has some moments that are a bit rough around the edges, but even so, the movie is entertaining enough to make you forget about that. It’s charming and funny, yet creepy and unsettling and though the ending didn’t come entirely together for me, I still had an absolute blast while watching it.
Check out ANYTHING FOR JACKSON, now available to stream on Shudder.