Jackals, 2017

This review may contain spoilers.

My name is Thanatos.

I almost heard that like how I heard it. Man that purple giant and his fucking snap has branded himself upon everyone’s brains.

This one takes home invasion, makes it shake hands with Mr. Sam Peckinpah and Dustin Hoffman, it then takes the mix and lets it loose on some well-grounded performances where everyone is as serious as death itself. Whereas Straw Dogs used the filmmaking technique where disputes were settled by force of arms, Jackals director, Kevin Greutert  (Jessabelle, 2014, another profound film by him) makes good sense of plot fodder and what could’ve easily taken the easy way out, both sides are required to work alongside a moral equator, presenting the performers an opportunity to startle the audience by how resourcefulness. Where Secuestrados (Kidnapped), 2010 and director Miguel Ángel Vivas is merciless and does not offer any relief to its audience and that makes it one of the most effective home invasion films, whose name can be taken with Haneke‘s Funny Games US, the compelling exercise in gritty psycho-noir Hounds of Love, 2016 (Ben Young), and the slick, intense, and truly uncomfortable and terrifying Ghostland (Incident in a Ghost Land), 2018 by Pascal Laugier a significant addition to the New French Extremity movement.

A strenuously serious Stephen Dorff (Leatherface, 2017) is the man with the plan, he is also a victim to the Hitchcock syndrome. A guilt-ridden serious Deborah Kara Unger (Crash, 1996) is the mother being made to hear and watch things that no mother should, on or of-screen.

I say that to convey the serious, smoky, thick with clouds of impending doom atmosphere (cinematography by Andrew Russo) and those masks from The Purge and The Mummy which, are just that; masks. However, the enormity behind the silhouette or perhaps around it is dense with sordid intentions of slashing a throat or two, where sometimes the cruelty is just for that and serves no other plot design.  

Johnathon Schaech is coy and confused, hiding a secret, serious. His resemblance to actor Joaquin Phoenix is uncannily distracting and does so much for the already very serious film. Ben Sullivan as the brain-washed kid by some seriously messed up people is fantastic to watch. Especially when he does this little something towards the end.

Reminds me of A Dark Song, 2016

Nick Roux runs to gain our sympathy and that is some serious precision running. Say, like Robert Patrick from Terminator 2. On second thought, I don’t quite think so. All redemption-sprint and valor on one side and that fucking mother of serious T-1000 chase after the trio in the parking lot. I digress and it was wonderfully nostalgic. 

Jackals just may come across films like  The Purge, Wrong Turn, House of the Dead, Green Room, and so many other titles, adding to the horror of the masked group of strangers at the door or the video doorbells, the latest craze in affordable home security, however, the pseudo-mysticism is kept at bay by Greutert, making this one competent, if anything at all.

Coming back to this baby; it delivers by rendering the horror flashback of the masks the cult members wear and have worn in other valid but completely forgettable cult-versus-family flicks.

Yes ma’am it does. If there is one home invasion film that is so well made that I’d rather feed the damn pigeons in the park for three straight hours than rewatch, it is hands-down “Secuestrados, 2010” and if there is an effectively tragic and serious genre contributor it is Jackals by Kevin Greutert who also made Saw: The Final Chapter, 2010; an earnestly solemn artist, I assume, who after helming two Saw films still manages to break free and deliver a true, hand-to-blackened-heart horror/thriller in a long bloody while.

A must watch

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