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Film Review: Jackals (2017)

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SYNOPSIS:

A family hires a deprogrammer to rescue its youngest member from a cult. Too bad the cult isn’t just going to let him go that easily and they end up terrorizing the family (who have taken refuge at a cabin in the woods), killing anyone that gets in their way, demanding that they return him to them. 

REVIEW:

I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews for Jackals (most of them pretty negative for the most part) so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be into it or not. I thought that it had an interesting enough sounding premise so I went into it hoping for the best but not really expecting to be blown away by it. Sure enough, after everything was said and done I can say that I thought that it was just okay. It really wasn’t anything special but it wasn’t horrible at the same time but I thought that it was a little better than most of the other reviews I’d seen for it made it out to be. If you ask me it’s worth watching if you are into movies like The Strangers and while it does have its moments over all it’s pretty forgettable in the long run. 


Like I said, I thought that it had a decent premise and it was interesting for the most part. Essentially the movie is about a family (that likes to bicker about everything apparently) trapped in a cabin in the woods under siege by what appears to be an army of masked cultist (seriously, how many members does this cult have? There were like a slew of them that kept showing up).  Not only does the family have to worry about the homicidal cultists outside, but they also have to deal with the brainwashed family member that they “rescued” from the cult who isn’t exactly the person that he used to be. I thought that this was a nice touch as the family is basically dealing with two big threats at the same time here and things are looking quite bleak for them. On the one had they have a bunch of masked killers outside trying to get in to reclaim their “property” to contend with while they also have a brainwashed son tied up in the house that is just as bad as the rest of the cultists. This works and helps to add to the family’s plight as well as kicks the suspense level up a notch or two.

In terms of the characters, I liked some of them but didn’t care for others. Stephen Dorff is good as the deprogrammer that the family hires but unfortunately he doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time as he is killed off pretty early on despite the fact that he is supposed to be a badass or something. I also thought that Deborah Kara Unger was decent as the stressed-out mother and I couldn’t help but feel for her as she has a pretty rough go of it physically, emotionally, and mentally during the course of the movie. I also thought that Justin was a great character and can say that Ben Sullivan does a good job of bringing him to life (he plays a great brainwashed nut job that keeps making cryptic comments that freak out the rest of the family).

I didn’t really like the father of the family though as he kept making stupid decisions and is one of the worst dads in the history of film (why does he just stand there and watch his one son get set on fire without doing anything to help him at one point?). I also wasn’t big on Samantha either as she was just more annoying than anything and the queen of dumb decisions that put everyone in danger. I also thought that the cult members were pretty lame too and wish we had a little bit more background information on them as well as they are just sort of there just to kill people and nothing else (plus I thought that Fox Girl was just silly as hell and a crappy Harley Quinn wannabe that didn’t really work).  While I didn’t care for every character there were a few that I did like and want to see survive their ordeal but unfortunately not all of them make it out alive.

I don’t know if I missed something or what, but what was up with the opening scene? While it is cool and Halloween-like (and I loved the fact that the killer doesn’t hurt the cat before breaking into the house and instead pets it lovingly before slaughtering the family inside) it doesn’t make much sense in the long run. Who was the guy that broke into the house and killed the family (at least one member seems to know him but it isn’t expanded upon)? Unless I just totally overlooked it we never really find out (other than he is part of the cult) and it doesn’t have a lot to do with what transpires for the rest of the film. I also didn’t think setting it in 1983 worked either as the clothes the characters were wearing looked modern and it looked like it was taking place in the present time or so. It didn’t feel like it was 1983 and I think the only reason that it took place at that time was because it meant that none of the family members would have cell phones to call for help.

I wasn’t really that big on the ending either as the movie just sort of comes to a screeching halt at one point. It almost feels like the people behind it either had no clue how to really end things or just got frustrated and gave up on coming up with a decisive conclusion. I assume it ends the way it does because they are planning to make a sequel at some point but I just didn’t really care for it and thought that it was very lacking in a lot of ways. One of the biggest complaints that I have read about the movie is its ending and after seeing it for myself I totally and completely agree as it is very weak and unsatisfying.

In the end I liked Jackals but at the same time there were several things about it that kept it from being as good as it could have been. While it has some pretty cool gore and an impressive body count it still tends to drag at times and could have been paced a little better. It isn’t bad but it just feels like it is missing something and as a result I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped that I would have. Check it out if it sounds like something that you might be into as it is enjoyable for what it is but had the potential to be a whole lot more in my humble opinion.

Bonus Features

  • Commentary With Director Kevin Greutert And Writer Jared Rivet
  • Interviews With The Cast And Crew
  • Original Theatrical Trailers

Jackals is now available on bluray per Shout Factory

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