The Jack in the Box
One of the great things about horror is its ability to take basic objects and turn them into murderous villains. Tomatoes, sofas, and even tires; horror has brought new life to these basic everyday items and helped create nightmare fuel out of them. There's plenty of films based around childhood toys like dolls and puppets (Child's Play, Annabelle, Puppet Master, Dead Silence) but last year, a new UK film debuted on streaming services entitled THE JACK IN THE BOX where its evil villain is - you guessed it - a jack in the box; and turns out the movie is pretty fucking awesome. I've been pretty eager to check this one out since the trailer looked pretty promising, and it's been sitting in my watchlist for forever now, but I finally got a chance to check it out and writer and director Lawrence Fowler absolutely delivers on all fronts with his latest movie. The Jack in the Box brings a horrifying twist to the classic toy that - let's be honest - has terrorized children for decades by popping out of the box, and Fowler put together a totally haunting backstory to the legend of Jack, as well as giving him an appearance and characteristics that will strike fear into the hearts of children of all ages. The movie has plenty of suspense, murder, and unsettling scenes - as well as a healthy amount of on-screen time for our monster - and the overall product is one hell of a joy ride of terror. I knew this film was going to slay it by its trailer, and I'm happy to report it even blew those expectations out of the water.
Without giving too much away, let me just say this: The Jack in the Box follows a young American dude named Casey (Ethan Taylor) who moves to the UK to escape a dark past and start new. He begins working in a museum where a bizarre, oversized jack in the box toy was donated and just sitting in storage. Casey finds the toy and opens it up, unknowingly letting out the demon contained within: Jack. After people begin going missing, Casey follows his instinct that tells him that Jack is the one responsible, and he begins researching a way to lock Jack back in his box and put an end to his reign of terror once and for all. Will Jack be able to put Jack away forever, or is the demon doomed to slaughter all of the city now that he's out?!
If I didn't already make it clear, the story to this film was beautifully crafted and well put together. It's a straight forward, easy to understand supernatural horror - and that makes it a great film for younger horror fans to enjoy! There's really only one minor thing I thought felt out of place and unnecessary for the film, but the thirty second scene isn't even nearly bad to take away from the awesomeness of this movie. The ending will surprise you, as it did me - it doesn't take the usual route you would expect from a horror film like this one, and I thought it was an amazing choice of Fowler to go this route than any other. I was so fucking pleased with the payoff and ending to the movie, and it's honestly exactly how I would have went about closing out this monster-terror. As for Jack himself - again, Fowler knocked it out of the park. From his two looks (the doll and the monster) to his backstory and murders, Jack is an absolutely horrific villain that would surely make anybody mess their pants upon sight. The jester doll inside of the box has this really eerie, maniacal look on his face with these wide eyes, wide nose, wicked grin and of course, face paint. It's scary on its own, but it is no match for the out-of-the-box creature Jack turns into when he escapes his six panel prison. The film gave the beast these terrifying characteristics, such as being 7 feet tall, supernatural strength mixed with enhanced speed, agility, and these massive claws that can (and will) shred you to pieces. The face of the monster is a thing of your absolute worst nightmares, and it's amazing. It doesn't look cheesy or tacky at all - it just works.
But appearance aside, what caught my eye with the Jack in the Box is his history and backstory. The film created this sinister backstory to the toy, saying that the origin of the jack in the box toy was Victorian era France, where the boxes were used to contain evil forces, aka demons. The boxes were meant to look harmless, but once they were opened, the demons would be unleashed unto the world. And there's only two ways to put him back: Jack must claim six victims (which is counted by a numerical counter on the outside of the box), or he must be forced back into the box and have a ritual phrase pronounced over the box to lock him in. The most important part, though, of the ritual is to ensure all of Jack is inside the box before making the proclamation - failure to do so will not lock Jack in, and his murder spree will continue until his kill count reaches six! I love everything about this backstory, and think it made for a great addition to the film. Simply because it wasn't just a killer toy (like you see in many of these inanimate object horrors), there's an actual reason Jack is out there haunting the city from his beautifully crafted wooden box. It made for a great story, and for a great film.
The kills in the film aren't anything crazy worth noting; but the kills are not what this movie is about. There's definitely some fun fight and kill scenes in The Jack in the Box - with one kill being particularly brutal - but there's nothing that is overly gory or anything you haven't seen before. But this film is more than just the intensity of the kills: it's the creature, his backstory, and the fight for the humans to put Jack in his box once and for all. So as long as you don't go into this movie thinking you're going to see some epic, blood-filled carnage scenes, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with just how fun and creative this movie gets when it comes to the beloved childhood toy. The movie was well worth it's rental price, and I gotta recommend this one - you'll have a good time watching a Jack in the Box terrorize the city!