On Friday, September 1, 2017, Jackals, a thriller/horror film directed by Kevin Greutert, was officially released to the public.
Appearing to share some similarities with Adam Wingard’s You’re Next (2011), my favorite horror film — a group of killers wearing animal masks target a family isolated in the middle of the woods — I was intrigued.
Shortly after its release, however, it became apparent through various online reviews that the film, excluding its somewhat similar premise, was essentially something entirely different.
Having been temporarily persuaded by other reviewers to disregard Jackals shortly after its release in the early fall, I finally decided to watch it and reach my own conclusions.
Please note that the following review contains spoilers.
Review of Jackals
Jackals, excluding its rather unnecessary opening scene, centers around the Powells, a family that’s lost one of their members to a violent cult.
Upon reuniting with him through the assistance of a cult deprogrammer that was hired for the case, they soon realize that Justin (Ben Sullivan) has already been significantly brainwashed.
As the day passes, viewers learn more about Justin’s original family members — most of whom seem to be determined to bring him back from his dangerous state of mind — and it becomes clear that their seemingly unified nature is more of a facade than a reality.
This becomes particularly evident early into the night, when Justin’s “brothers” arrive at the cabin, determined to retrieve him.
During the scenes that follow, the Powells and Justin’s former girlfriend, Samantha (Chelsea Ricketts), attempt to defend themselves from the large group of cultists lurking outside, while also keeping Justin, who is tied to a chair, from leaving with them.
Instead of simply charging inside and retrieving him through the use of force, however, most of the cultists wait outside for Justin, guarding the surrounding property.
Eventually, however — through a series of poor decisions — the Powells and Samantha make themselves vulnerable to the cultists.
This is mostly due to their increasingly irrational consensus to prevent Justin from leaving, despite their knowledge of the threat that the cultists pose to Samantha’s baby and everyone else on the wooded property that’s not a member of the cult.
By the conclusion of the film, viewers still know relatively nothing about the cult and are presented with a “cliffhanger” that is ultimately more of a detriment than a benefit to Jackals.
Although the film suffered from the same flaw as many others that are associated with the horror genre — characters with a blatant lack of logic — I did find much of it to be enjoyable (sometimes due to the presence of the genre flaw itself).
That being said, my overall opinion of the film became mixed as a result of three particular factors: the common flaw of the horror genre, the lack of background information regarding the cult (which could have been addressed during the opening scene), and the “cliffhanger” ending (yet another opportunity to provide additional background information regarding the cult’s members and motives).
Pumpkin Rating & Conclusion
Entertainment Value: 3 / 5 Pumpkins
Price of Film: 5 / 5 Pumpkins
Duration of Film: 4 / 5 Pumpkins
Pumpkin Rating: 3 / 5 Pumpkins
Jackals is an entertaining film that is worth watching at least once; however, it suffers at times (particularly during its opening scene and closing scene) from a lack of focus that is ultimately detrimental to the overall plot, specifically in regard to the cult that arrives at the cabin.
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