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Taut and tension-filled with exceptional performances, Jackals is a gripping and harrowing home invasion horror/psychological thriller  

JackalsDirector: Kevin Greutert
Writer: Jared Rivet
Producer: Tommy Alastra, Pamela Monroe and J.E. Moore
Special Effects: Robert Hensley, Amber Mari and James Ojala
Cast: Deborah Kara Unger, Stephen Dorff, Johnathon Schaech, Nick Roux, Alyssa Julya Smith, Chelsea Ricketts, Jason Scott Jenkins, Ben Sullivan, Alex Kingi, Cassie Hernandez, Alex Castillo, Carol Abney and Nick Feld
Released By: Scream/Shout! Factory
Release Date: September 1, 2017 (VOD and Limited Theatrical Run)

The Premise

Set in the 1980’s, 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.

The Details

Direct­ed by Kevin Greutert (Saw VI (2009), Saw 3D: The Final Chap­ter (2010), Jess­abelle (2014) and Visions (2015)) and writ­ten by Jared Riv­et, Jack­als is a dark and grit­ty film that com­bines equal ele­ments of religous/cult, home inva­sion and psy­cho­log­i­cal hor­ror in a way that does not insult genre fans and man­ages to tell a grip­ping sto­ry that does not have to lead you by the hand to a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion.


While many films try to over explain the char­ac­ter moti­va­tions and paints them with broad strokes that tend to make a film drag, Jack­als keeps the focus square­ly on the plight of a fam­i­ly sim­ply try­ing to bring their son back from the clutch­es of a mys­te­ri­ous cult.

Help­ing to lend the the claus­tro­pho­bic feel of the film is the excel­lent use of one pri­ma­ry loca­tion in an iso­lat­ed area. While remote in the day­light, it appears even more des­o­late once night hits and almost becomes a char­ac­ter itself. Add to that crisp cam­era work that makes the film feel like the 80s as well as a score that plucks at the nerves in your spine and you have the per­fect storm of events that make for a chill­ing tale.


The fan­tas­tic choic­es in cast mem­bers, in par­tic­u­lar the role of the alco­holic moth­er (Deb­o­rah Kara Unger) and the remorse­ful  father (Johnathon Schaech), real­ly strikes a chord of divorced par­ents that wish they could have done some­thing dif­fer­ent with their pasts to do bet­ter by their lost son.

The rival­ry aspects between the two broth­ers (played aggres­sive­ly and with fer­vor by Nick Roux and Ben Sul­li­van) is dis­played well and with a raw emo­tion that you would expect from real life broth­ers. Chelsea Rick­etts is haunt­ing and frag­ile as the girl­friend who wants noth­ing more than to have her boyfriend back to help raise their new­born child, and Stephen Dorff nails his role as the tough as nails, ex-marine “cult extrac­tor” will­ing to use any means nec­es­sary to com­plete his mis­sion.


While you only see one oth­er cult mem­ber unmasked, the phys­i­cal pres­ence of the oth­er mem­bers in cos­tume is eerie and will cause goose­bumps to rise on your arms.  The “face­less” aspect of the tor­men­tors as well as the phys­i­cal pres­ence of the leader nev­er leaves you ques­tion­ing the moti­va­tions.

Many peo­ple will draw a direct line to films like The Strangers (2008, which Greutert was an edi­tor on) and even Rosemary’s Baby (1968) while watch­ing Jack­als, but while they may have had an influ­ence in the mak­ing of this film, it cer­tain­ly stands on its own.


Again, the film tells a straight and to the point nar­ra­tive that gets the point across with­out spelling it all out for you. You do not need to know or see who the oth­er cult mem­bers are to know that they will do any­thing to get their kid­napped mem­ber back, nor do you need to know their back­sto­ry.  The true sto­ry of the film is the strug­gle of the fam­i­ly try­ing to bring their son back and the hor­rif­ic lengths that both sides will resort to in order to achieve their goals.

Not a film with copi­ous amounts of blood and gore, the film instead scares you with psy­cho­log­i­cal aspects with phys­i­cal­i­ty spread even­ly through.  If you are look­ing for a film that will make you think a bit and ques­tion the moti­va­tions of what we do as indi­vid­u­als, this is the film for you!


The Verdict

Once again, Scream Fac­to­ry is to be com­mend­ed for find­ing this gem amongst all the releas­es that are put out today. It is a rar­i­ty to find a mod­ern day film that blends these aspects togeth­er so well.

The film nev­er feels like it drags, and you do not find your­self hat­ing the cast and wish­ing for their painful deaths. The empa­thy you feel for them would be on par for how you would feel for your own friends and fam­i­ly if you ever found your­self in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

It is nice to see that the film will be get­ting a lim­it­ed the­atri­cal release as well as being avail­able for stream­ing and On-Demand. When fur­ther details of release of DVD/Blu-Ray are announced, we will share them here.

I am very much look­ing for­ward to its release to the gen­er­al pub­lic and would high­ly rec­om­mend see­ing this in the­aters if you get the chance!

The Final Ver­dict: 4 out of 5

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