Jack Goes Home triples down on weird and stays in a dark, twisted place. It’s a grueling, joyless viewing experience that amounted to one of my poorer cinematic life decisions.
In fairness, Director/Screenwriter Thomas Dekker tips off the crazy almost right away and it only gets worse as the film unfolds.
Jack (Rory Culkin) gets the tragic news his father died in a car accident. His mother (Lin Shaye, Insidious: Chapter Two) is grieving in a manner that seems like she’s on the verge of a mental breakdown. Shaye has fun embracing the unintentionally campy role. At least she makes the mother unpredictable enough that most of her scenes are interesting.
Occasionally, Jack’s best friend, Shanda (Daveigh Chase), comes by to check on him. Oddly, Dekker introduces Jack’s pregnant girlfriend, but doesn’t feel the need to involve her for most of the film with even daily phone calls. Her character seems to exist solely to provide an emotional kick to Jack at his lowest.
That’s one of the film’s biggest issues. Dekker lacks subtlety as a storyteller, constantly goes for soap opera theatrics. A laughably over the top score further serves to undercut any potential weight to the story. Dekker clumsily tries to incorporate some erotica elements, which is creepy whether it involves Teresa or Jack’s next door neighbor, Duncan (Louis Hunter).
Culkin plays Jack too stiff. Whether that’s Dekker’s or Culkin’s decision, it’s not the right call. It’s too challenging to invest in a character who alternates between being distant, pretentious and otherwise off. When Jack starts learning some family secrets better left hidden, they lack the payoff because Jack’s journey hasn’t been worth following.
Dekker fares better on the directing end. He’s got a solid comprehension of setting a scene for maximum creepiness and unnerving thrills — Jack’s visions are disturbing — but Dekker doesn’t have any other tricks up his sleeve.
The film’s big reveal falls flat as it was too obvious early on. Dekker gives a sincere effort at making a thought-provoking psychological thriller, but the execution is such a mess it can’t hold up to his high aspirations.
Jack Goes Home is a messy, crazy film. This was one that couldn’t end soon enough for me.
Rating: 1 out of 10
Photo Credit: Momentum Pictures
Jack Goes Home debuted in select US cinemas and VOD on October 14.