The Jack in the Box: Awakening
In the summer of 2020, we checked out a little movie called The Jack in the Box and fucking loved it; our review of the film was very positive and the film was no doubt a highlight of the year for me - it left that good of an impression. And now we're in the frozen January 2022, and the sinister legend continues as writer and director Lawrence Fowler brings the haunted "toy" to life yet again in the newly released sequel The Jack in the Box: Awakening. I gotta be straight up honest from the get-go: sequels obviously have a notorious reputation for being garbage, but this simply is not the case for this series - and if anything, I might even go a step further and say Fowler somehow managed to one-up this films predecessor! Awakening tells a very different and unique story, but one thing remains untouched: the fucking terrifying, good ol' Jack in the Box. If you even slightly enjoyed the original movie or this one looks even slightly up your alley, spend the money tonight and give this flick a watch - I can almost guarantee you'll find something to love about it. The first film left such a crazy impression on us, and this one - especially for kicking off the new year with it - did exactly the same. Fowler has crafted an absolutely terrifying story about the classic children's toy and this time around, it's about the insane power contained by the clown inside the box. The Jack in the Box: Awakening is a must-see for fans of horror - what doesn't shock you will leave you laughing, what doesn't scare you will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Awakening tells its own deranged storyline quite separate from the original Jack in the Box film, so even though I'd recommend seeing the original first just because of how good it is, Fowler definitely made it possible to love this movie without knowing anything from the previous flick. But Awakening follows the story of Edgar (played by Matt McClure), the son of a very wealthy yet sickly woman who has limited days left to live. Edgar cares for his mother Olga (Nicola Wright) in their drop dead gorgeous mansion, where he hires the help of three staff members to help cook, clean, and do basic upkeep of the property to help keep the property tidy and clean. Early on in the film, the bed-ridden Olga receives a new addition to their collection of oddities, but this time, it has a purpose: the jack in the box that she purchased claims to be the oldest and original one of its kind in the entire world, and Olga believes it has the power to help heal her body and allow her to live her life again, free of pain. The only thing it requires in return... is the sacrifice of six people. Six people that her beloved son Edgar is tasked with luring to the property for the absolutely fucking terrifying creature inside the box - the Jack in the Box - to kill and consume. Edgar was unknowingly signed up for this dreadful task by his dying mother, but he'd do anything for her... even if it means the death of six people. Will the Jack in the Box get his six souls to consume and heal Olga's broken body forever? Or will the three staff members work together to help stop Edgar's plan from killing six innocent people?! Find out in... THE JACK IN THE BOX: AWAKENING!
If this doesn't sound fucking cool to you, I must have done a really terrible job summing up this wicked film - which is fair, because a movie that's as simple as this one actually has a lot going on in it! There's a lot of storytelling going on: first you get the backstory of Edgar and his dying mother Olga, then you get the backstory of the actual Jack who creepily crawls out of the box to kill and devour his sacrifices in the most brutal of ways, and on top of all that, you get the story of the workers - which mostly focuses on the maid Amy (played by Mollie Hindle) - trying to escape the locked down property and the madman that Edgar had become seemingly overnight. Like I said, it's a lot of story being packed into just an hour and a half - so every single scene is meaningful and steadily moves the storyline along, meaning that there's no lull in action (or blood!) the entire film. Fowler doesn't give you a chance to be bored or to look away; Jack's petrifying claws will take its hold on you from the moment the box is first opened until the very end of the movie. And every main character in the movie is a delight to watch on screen as they deal with whatever situation they're in: Edgar's love for his mother clearly knows no limits as he's willing to lure others to their deaths, Olga's selfishness and elitist attitude continues to push her son to his limits, Amy's weariness of Edgar and her perseverance through the mind games he plays, as well as her determination to get the fuck out of the mansion before she becomes one of the sacrifices... all three of these characters are so vastly different but so much fun to watch as their personal stories unfold. And how can we forget about the films crooked clown Jack?! Awakening gives us a glimpse into the insanely twisted history of one of horrors most underrated haunters and how he became the killer he is today, locked inside the wooden box - and I gotta say, I'm more than happy with the origin story of Jack, and the scenes that play out as his legend is being told are some of the most memorable of the entire film. A fantastic backstory for a fantastic killer clown.
If I couldn't make it any more obvious, I fucking loved this movie. I think it does a killer job as a follow-up to the original movie, I think it does a killer job as a stand-alone film, and I think it does a killer job at being an entertaining, blood soaked hour and a half. Without giving too much away, when Edgar finally chooses who he decides to sacrifice to the demon, the box is placed beside them and the iconic jack in the box tune plays... which releases the psychopathic killer clown out into the world, where he can kill his victim and drag their lifeless, blood soaked body back into his box. And every time you see him, he gets more and more terrifying. Oh, and another positive note is that this film isn't like some of those others flicks where you see the creature for a total of maybe 30 seconds the entire movie. Oh no, Fowler ensures that you get what you pay for and you get to see plenty of sickening action from the beast, and it's totally awesome. I didn't know what I would have wanted as a follow-up to such a great movie, but the team behind this one knocked it right out of the park with this one. It just continues to deliver, and no expense is spared at making sure that at the end of the day, a totally awesome story is told - and lots of blood is spilled with it. And obviously the highlight for the movie is the creature himself, but it has to be noted how much Matt McClure steals a bit of the show as Edgar. He almost has a little bit of a Norman Bates kind of personality to him once the plan begins to go down, and this really disturbing version of the guy comes out and it's great. I ate this film up and I'm already eager to see a third installment in the storyline, cause I just know it's going to be as epic as these last two. The Jack in the Box: Awakening is absolutely on my must-see list of films for the last few months, and I'm eager to see how well it fares against the rest of the horror flicks to come out this year. Rent this one today!!