While the allure of the supernatural thriller is something that makes it perfect for those in the indie world, with its less is more approach. Most seem to forget that the best films that come from this sub-genre are the ones that spend as much time on the human story, as they do the supernatural one. This serves to not only give the audience their point of entry into the narrative, but also to ground the film in some reality before the shit hits the proverbial fan. For instance Rosemary’s Baby is also about a young woman’s fear of motherhood, as well as being impregnated by Satan. Director Justin G. Dyck, who is probably best known for his direct to video Christmas fare, follows in this tradition by delving into the deep emotional toll of loss, delivering what is easily one of the best films to traffic in these tropes in a decade.
Anything For Jackson, which is screening as part of the Nightstream Virtual Film Fest is the story of Audrey (Sheila McCarthy)and Henry Walsh (Julian Richings), a seemingly very nice elderly couple, who recently lost their grandson Jackson and will do anything to get him back. This includes turning to Satanism, and then kidnapping one of Henry’s pregnant patients (Konstantina Mantelos) at his practice, so they can in turn put the soul of their dead grandson into the unborn child. Taking place in the present, the film has a modern take on Satanism, it’s not played for camp or stereotypical as is the norm, but nothing in this story is simply as it seems from the get-go. While the film is a bit of a slow-burn as the best of these films usually are, it’s all about building the foundation for when the couple is finally faced with the true cost of bringing back their grandson back, and whether or not they are truly willing to pay it.
The atmosphere here of the story of loss is perfectly executed, so when the supernatural elements hit it just works and it’s super effective. Breaking with the norms and going with an elderly couple looking to resurrect their grandson, also adds a much different dynamic to this familiar story. It’s also worth noting when they dig into why they opt for the grandchild as opposed to their own daughter, its heartbreaking and feels very authentic and that’s what fuels the insanity that bubbles up in the third act. This is thanks to some amazing performances by all the principles that really allows you to sympathize with these people, even if you don’t exactly agree with them. Anything For Jackson is a disturbing supernatural thriller with the jump scares and gore you’d expect, but it’s also a deeply empathetic and human story as well.