The review for today! Thomas Dekker’s (John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned) second directorial debut, titled Jack Goes Home, a slightly flawed, but suspenseful slow burn, that builds to a conclusion that will leave you wanting to watch the movie one more time. It releases today in cinemas and VOD, but if you want a spoiler-free review before checking it out, read on…
Jack Thurlowe (Rory Culkin) is a successful magazine editor with a beautiful fiancée Cleo (Britt Robertson) who is seven months pregnant with their first child. However, this perfect life is turned upside down when Jack discovers that his parents have suffered a brutal car accident back in his hometown. His beloved father has perished while his mother Teresa (Lin Shaye) has survived. Upon returning home for the funeral, the volatile nature of Jack and Teresa’s relationship boils to the surface and the constant barrage of sympathy from the town starts to weigh on Jack’s grieving process.
With the arrival of a mysterious new neighbor, Duncan (Louis Hunter), Jack finds audio recordings and video tapes left behind by his father that lead him to question childhood memories and the very foundation of his identity. With pressure mounting and sanity crumbling, Jack comes to learn that the idyllic world he has believed in since infancy is in fact a nightmare playground full of lies, deception, violence and murder.
Jack (Rory Culkin) receives terrible news that his father has passed away in a car accident and only his mother (Lin Shaye in a scene-stealing performance) has survived. Jack heads home for the funeral, but when it gets there, he sees that his mother is not doing too well. She becomes drunk, belligerent and downright cruel. Jack’s lifelong friend Shanda (Daveigh Chase) is there to help him, along with a mysterious next door neighbour, Duncan (played by Louis Hunter), who also wants to help him out through these hard times.
Slowly, as the physical abuse of his mother weighs on him and he discovers a secret tape recorded by his father, which dives into Jack’s childhood; Jack’s world starts to crumble around him. What is real and what is not becomes harder and harder to differentiate.
Without delving any further into the story, lest I ruin it all, I will say that Jack Goes Home is a type of film that comes off slow at first, but as the movie progresses, it starts becoming more and more interesting. There are plenty of moments of suspense, terror (attic scene springs to mind) and as I previously mentioned, Lin Shaye is phenomenal in this flick.
However, there are a few issues here and there. Some of the weird things that Jack sees end up unexplained and used only to elicit scares from the audience. A bit of information on what he is seeing would have gone a long way to help strengthen the story. Also, some of the character’s reactions to the tragic events that are happening all around them come off as fake. When Jack tells his fiancee that his father is dead, it’s understandable for Jack to not emote as he is in shock,but his fiancee’s reaction to the news was borderline unsympathetic.
Nevertheless, even with a few issues that nagged me, I still ended up enjoying Jack Goes Home. It provided a twisted story that begs for a repeat viewing. Thomas Dekker should be proud of his second film. Give this one a chance and I think you’ll like it.