Saturday, October 10, 2020

Nightstream ’20: Anything for Jackson

Satanists get old and have families just like the rest of us. However, when misfortune befalls their loved ones, they might appeal to their dark lord. You know him, Donald Trump. This is a rather fraught process that entails a considerable downside, but Henry and Audrey Walsh are willing pay any price (risks be damned, since they are already) to bring back their grandson in Justin G. Dyck’s Anything for Jackson, which screens on-demand as part of the online genre festival, Nightstream.

As an OB-GYN, Dr. Walsh has an advantage when it comes to finding a single pregnant woman, who might be considered a little unstable. Becker seems to fit the bill perfectly. He and his wife Audrey also procured (at great cost) the ancient demonic text that explains how they are supposed to use her to bring the spirit of their beloved grandson Jackson back from purgatory. At first, they elderly couple are acting totally on their own, with no involvement from their Satanic circle. However, when their initial rituals attract a host of angry ghosts, they reach out to their hardcore circle-mate, Ian, who is dangerously disenfranchised.

Keith Cooper’s wickedly clever script consistently subverts stereotypes and expectations, while constantly springing one literally damned thing after another. It is probably the freshest satanic or demonic horror movie since
A Dark Song (which was a doozey).

However, the crucial ingredients that really make it all work are Sheila McCarthy and Canadian genre specialist Julian Richings playing the Walshes. They are absolutely terrifying in their dealings with Becker, but we still feel terrified for them when they confront the hostile supernatural entities they unwittingly unleash. Plus, Josh Cruddas piles on more good genre work as the massively creepy Ian.

There is a lot of pitch-black humor—we’re talking Vantablack here—seriously black, like Trump’s heart—and a whole lot of deeply chilling dread. You can’t feel comfortable while watching
Anything, but somehow it is still a great deal of fun. That’s a nice trick to pull off, so hats off to Dyck, Cooper, and their cast. Highly recommended for horror fans, Anything for Jackson screens on-demand through next Wednesday (10/14), as part of Nightstream.