How far would you go to bring back a loved one? Shudder’s latest original film Anything for Jackson begs this very question. Along with a dry wit, and an incredibly dark descent into demonology, it brings the scares, and gives its audience something to think about.
The Depths of Desperation
Following the tragic death of their grandson Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry (Julian Richings) abduct a pregnant woman, Becker (Konstantina Mantelos) in order to use her soon to be born child to bring back their beloved Jackson.
They’ve abandoned being the quite old couple they appear to be on the outside and embraced Satanism to bring them comfort. At first they seem quite reserved and mild, but that only makes them more compelling characters and villains (more on that later).
Unfortunately for them, the forces they’re dealing with are far beyond any mortal’s control and all hell breaks loose, quite literally.
Deals with Demons
Once the portal is opened, the movie delves deeply into supernatural horror with ghostly visitors and demonic invaders. A myriad of spirits, both human and inhuman, all compete for a chance to cross through using the baby to enter the world.
In many ways, it feels reminiscent of the first Insidious movie, but without that cheesy Tim Burton-esque third act. It does a great job of creating a creepy and unsettling tone, without having to rely heavily on jump scares.
Because the first act was mostly devoid of the supernatural, and because Henry and Audrey themselves weren’t certain it would work, the demonic activity feels all the more invasive and terrifying once it begins. And it seems to affect anyone who enters the house, with visceral and brutal results!
Part of what sets Anything for Jackson apart from the rest of the subgenre is its incredibly relatable protagonists Henry and Audrey. At first they’re quite unassuming and don’t seem the type of join a Satanic cult, and that’s because they really aren’t.
We can feel their pain and kind of understand their willingness to do anything (as the title suggests) to bring back their grandson. It’s why they seem so out of place among the other Satanists, and why they’re kind of laughably bad at kidnapping and coming up with a cover story (despite claiming they thought of everything).
Unlike the villains in the films like Satanic Panic, House of the Devil, or even The Babysitter, Henry and Audrey aren’t after power or immortality, they just want their family to be complete again, it makes them much more compelling and interesting characters.
Amidst all the supernatural horror are two really brilliant and nuanced performances by Sheila McCarthy (Umbrella Academy, Orphan Black) and Julian Richings (Christmas Horror Story, The Witch, Channel Zero).
Overall, Anything for Jackson is a solid supernatural thriller that boasts strong sympathetic performances, and a barrage of delightful demonic dread!
Anything for Jackson is premiering exclusively on Shudder on December 3, 2020 (US/UK/ANZ)