Movie Review: JACKALS

JACKALS was directed by Kevin Greutert from a screenplay by Jared Rivet and stars Deborah Kara Unger, Ben Sullivan, Nick Roux and Chelsea Ricketts with Johnathon Schaech and Stephen Dorff.

A young man, Justin Powell (Ben Sullivan), is held up at gunpoint by two ski-masked men and dragged back to a secluded cabin. This isn’t a standard kidnapping, as Justin’s estranged family is at the cabin waiting for him. Composed of Justin’s father Andrew (Johnathon Schaech), mother Kathy (Deborah Kara Unger), brother Campbell (Nick Roux) and former girlfriend Samantha (Chelsea Ricketts) who has recently given birth to their child, Justin’s family is dedicated to freeing him from the brainwashing he’s undergone at the hands of a vicious cult. With the help of Jimmy Levine (Stephen Dorff), an experienced cult deprogrammer, the family does their best to bring Justin back to reality. Everything goes awry when the cult descends upon the cabin, demanding Justin back. A vicious battle unfolds, testing familial loyalties and unleashing a bloodbath in which there are few survivors. Jackals is a disturbing vision of a fractured family that will do anything to get the son they love back from the cult that has taken control of his mind.

Jackals takes place in the early 80’s and is based on true events. The movie centers around the Powell family who has to kidnap their son from a cult that he’s joined and they bring him back to their secluded cabin in the woods so they can save him. The family brings in this cult deprogrammer to undo the brainwashing damage that this cult has done to their son but his attempts are futile. It doesn’t take long for the cult to show up to retrieve one of their lost sheep and the family finds out first hand the extreme measures these masked psychopaths will do to get him back. The family fights back for as long as they can but they’re greatly outnumbered and this attempt to save their son from these mysterious masked figures grows dim as the story unfolds and torture is dished out.

Okay, Jackals was everything I was hoping it would be and so much more. I’m familiar with a lot of Kevin Greuert’s work that includes the Saw franchise, The Collection, as well as the highly underrated Jessabelle. He’s mostly known for his editing skills but he’s also directed a few movies over the years and shows off as a filmmaker with this latest offering. To compliment his direction is the impressive cinematography by Andrew Russo who gives the movie this atmospheric look and sense of dread. The movie is dark and moody and beautifully shot. There’s also the creepy masks that the cult members are sporting that gives Jackals even more of this unsettling tone. They all wear these creepy masks and never say a word which is down right eerie if you ask me. To top this off there’s also a little blood and gore thrown in that will hopefully satisy the thirsty horror hounds out there.

The movie has a great cast that includes veteran actors Deborah Kara Unger, Johnathon Schaech and Stephen Dorff along with the younger cast that features Ben Sullivan, Nick Roux and Chelsea Ricketts. Stephen Dorff has more of a supporting role in the movie but what little screen time he’s given he packs a huge punch. Deborah Kara Unger and Johnathon Schaech play the concerned parents who are willing to put their lives on the line to save their youngest son from this brainwashing cult. Nick Roux does a good job as the angry older brother as well as Chelsea Ricketts who delivers an emotional performance as the girlfriend/baby momma. Ben Sullivan stands out as the son who drank way too much cult flavored Kool-Aid and has turned into this numb monster that his caring family hardly recognizes. He’s a frightening beast of a character who shows no signs of emotion or hope.

Bottom line is, I had a freaking blast watching Jackals which ended up being half slasher and half home invasion. The story was interesting even though it did feel a little familiar. Kevin Greutert did an impressive job directing the movie that’s complimented just right by this talented cast that delivers some powerful performances. Greutert has cranked out a finely tuned horror machine that’s running on all cylinders as it pits this one family that goes up against a mysterious masked cult and it never stalls from the opening scene to shocking finale. The movie fits right in with fan favorites like The Strangers, You’re Next and Straw Dogs if that gives you any indication of how brutally fantastic it is. Jackals is an awesomely brutal new entry into the slasher and home invasion subgenres of horror. The movie releases in select theaters and On Demand on September 1st and is definitely worth checking out!

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 86 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated








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