A family desperate to retrieve their son from a murderous cult enlists the help of an ex-marine specialist, only the cult doesn’t appear too eager to let him go. Over the course of one night, we see how far one family is willing to go to save their brainwashed son from a cult of killers in jackal masks – a son seemingly lost to evil. It’s “The Strangers” meets Charles Manson in this highly suspenseful and entertaining horror, and I can easily see this becoming a franchise. How far would you go to save a loved one from themselves? The answer isn’t easy once you realize sacrifices must be made.
The film begins through the POV of a killer breaking into a couple’s home and stealthily skulking around, looking for money to steal. The killer seems familiar with the house’s layout and it quickly becomes clear the killer is more than likely a former occupant of the home. The killer is revealed to be the son of the couple and as they awaken to the sound of the dog barking, he murders his parents and little sister. This entire opening sequence was very reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Halloween intro with the young Michael Meyers making his way through the Meyers home cloaked in his clown mask. Setting the tone for the rest of the film, this scene was a strong opener and had me looking forward to what came next.
Jackals does a fantastic job at explaining the story without explaining the story – in that the plot unfolds naturally and we as the audience are allowed to draw our own conclusions as to why things are happening the way they are, instead of just being fed a black and white story. It’s not immediately clear why certain things are happening, but stick around for the ride and everything will soon come to light. I love movies like this. The film assumes at least an iota of common sense in its viewers and feeds us just enough to keep us wanting more. Some might find it odd that the only cult member that speaks is the family’s son. None of the other cult members make a sound suffice howling into the night. They don’t need to – their motives are clear and no amount of conversation can be had to change their minds. Either you give them what they want or face the consequences. What else needs to be said?
If I had to pick something to improve upon, I suppose I would have liked to see some more interaction between the family and the cult outside of the cabin. The majority of the film takes place inside a cabin and it would have offered a nice change of scenery for the audience’s eyes. For instance, the scene with the family’s other son sneaking around the vans and they all move the vans to draw him out. I really enjoyed that scene. Maybe if they had some more dynamic scenes like that instead of constantly looking at the same cabin and swing set, I would have liked that. Also I didn’t like the fact that Stephen Dorff had to die so soon in the movie. I mean I get it, he’s the strongest of the group so it makes sense to target him first, I just really enjoy him as an actor and didn’t want to see him go so soon. I’m really just nitpicking here. I understand why things had to unfold the way they did.
There’s plenty of suspense and horror in this to keep even the smallest horror enthusiast entertained, and I highly recommend watching this movie. Granted, it’s not a feel-good, hero-centric horror movie, so don’t be surprised when not everyone makes it at the end, but believe me when I say you won’t regret watching this film. Whether you’re a fan of slashers or suspense, Jackals has what you’re looking for.
This movie is…
Hopefully by next year I’ll be reviewing a sequel!
Cheers and goodnight.