Dubbed “Canada’s answer to Hereditary,” Canadian wintry indie Anything For Jackson shows the appalling depths of grief an elderly couple plunges into following the death of their only grandson.
In one of the best horror movies of the year, Canadian-British actor Julian Richings stars alongside Canadian icon Shelia McCarthy as the anguished grandparents, Dr. Henry and Audrey Walsh—a couple at their breaking point as they attempt to come to terms with their loss. Devastated by the death of their beloved Jackson, the desperate Walshes spend their retirement savings on an ancient text that will help them channel his soul into an unborn child. Kidnapping a pregnant woman (Konstantina Mantelos), the Walshes perform a satanic ritual on her but end up inviting demons and evil spirits with selfish agendas into their home—proving you should always read the fine print when it comes to channelling the dead.
A different kind of festive spirit
Director Justin G. Dyck and screenwriter Keith Cooper have a number of sappy, family-friendly made-for-TV holiday movies under their belt, which makes Anything For Jackson’s snow-capped frights all the more delicious. With blood-soaked gore leaking onto the pristine snow and a unique spin on satanic rituals, Anything For Jackson will appease anti-Yuletide viewers looking to immerse themselves in icy depths of unsettling horror.
More than meets the eye
The premise for the film may appear comically clichéd on the surface, but there’s far more here than meets the eye. Thanks to glowing performances from Richings and McCarthy, Anything For Jackson has much in common with Rosemary’s Baby; it’s as if Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer’s kind-looking elderly apartment dwellers have been given a story of their own. The focus on the elderly instead of the young further lends itself to the uniqueness of the story, a rare move for the genre.
The strength of the veteran character actors’ performances sells the entire film, with Richings in particular shining in a rare leading man role that allows him to flex a full range of emotions. Despite their nefarious plans, the Walshes are incredibly endearing as a couple whose well-reasoned actions have snowballed into terrifying territory. They are ultimate the victims of their own actions.
Blood in the snow
But it’s not just the performances that demand attention: the special effects and jump-scares will satisfy even the pickiest horror fans looking for blood and gore. Canadian indie films don’t always have the luxury of putting their budget behind special effects, but Dyck’s film invests its energy into a couple of ghastly demons and blood-soaked moments, including one that will make you think twice the next time you floss your teeth.
Deeply satisfying, Anything For Jackson is one of 2020’s best horror films. The film is available on Super Channel in Canada and on Shudder in other countries now.