Jack Goes Home sounds like the title of a romantic comedy or a feel good drama about a man’s journey back to his roots to find himself. When he gets there, he’ll find a group of people who love him and want to nurture his dreams and help him be the best version of himself that he can become. It’s one of those films that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled when the credits roll.
That is NOT the film that Thomas Dekker has created. Instead, like the rest of this psychologically damaging masterpiece, the title is a ruse.
As the film opens, Jack Thurlowe (Rory Culkin) is going about his day to day life when he receives a phone call. His parents have been in a car accident. His father was killed, but his mother (played by incomparable Lin Shaye), despite bumps and bruises, has survived. He’s soon on his way home to tend to his mother and make arrangements for his father’s funeral. That’s the moment when his trouble really begins.
What follows is a slow burn journey into the past as Jack comes face to face with events from childhood he has long since repressed. As his nightmares begin to invade his reality, his world spins wildly out of control.
Culkin gives a brilliantly layered performance as Jack, raw and vulnerable as his psyche is laid bare. Each revelation that comes changes him and the actor registers that change in his entire body. I’m not certain I’ve ever seen Culkin give a better performance. What I am certain of after watching this film is that we can expect him to be taking the lead role more often in the future. Not only is he remarkably talented, but he has that innate ability to entice his audience to follow his every movement on screen.
And then, there’s Lin Shaye. Shaye is the Meryl Streep of the horror world and she proves, yet again, that she is a force to be reckoned with in the role of Teresa, Jack’s mother. One moment she is a vulnerable and loving mother and the next she boils over with rage and violence. How she does that believably and with such seeming ease is as mysterious as the woman she plays.
Dekker rounds out the cast with a host of talented actors and actresses. Daveigh Chase (aka Samara in The Ring) shines in the role of Jack’s best friend, and Louis Hunter smolders as Jack’s sexy next door neighbor who may or may not have sinister motives. Look closely and you’ll also spot Nikki Reed from the Twilight franchise and her recent stint as Betsy Ross on Fox’s Sleepy Hollow.
But all of that talent would come to nothing without amazing work behind the scenes. Dekker’s script and direction keeps the audience guessing, never offering a solid foundation on which to stand. He deftly moves us from reality to delusion and back again like pieces on a chessboard. The terror in the film is real, and worst of all, it’s inescapable.
Coupled with Ceiri Torjussen’s haunting score and Austin F. Schmidt’s stylish cinematography, this is one film you don’t want to miss.
Jack Goes Home releases in cinemas and on VOD October 14, 2016 from Momentum Pictures. Check your local listings and see this film ASAP! This movie is one emotional roller coaster that is definitely worth the ride.