Movie Review: Jack Goes Home (2016)
“Let The Condolences Begin”
Jack Goes Home (2016)
Director: Thomas Dekker
Cast: Rory Culkin, Lin Shaye, Daveigh Chase
Synopsis: A young man returns to his childhood home following the death of his father.
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Jack Goes Home is one of those movies for which a second viewing is more rewarding than the first simply because we know what’s going on. On first viewing it seems like a collection of scenes in which, for the most part, nothing of significance happens but, armed with knowledge of its final reel twist, everything makes sense, and those scenes which seemed so arbitrary and – in some cases – downright weird, take on a whole new meaning.
Some of what takes place is real, but much of it happens in the tortured imagination of Jack (Rory Culkin – Intruders) who, just before he learns that his father has died in a car crash, takes mild umbrage at being called bro by a workmate. There’s a reason for that which becomes apparent late in the movie, as does Jack’s lack of emotion at the news of his father’s death. “We live, we drive, we crash, we die,” he glibly informs his pregnant girlfriend, who is away from home dealing with a family crisis of her own, before returning to the house in which he was raised, and in which his mother, who survived the crash which killed his father, copes with his death with a similar calm acceptance to her son, interspersed with bouts of heavy drinking.
To say much more about the plot would be to risk revealing spoilers. Jack’s relationship with his mother (played sublimely by Lin Shaye – Insidious, Ouija) is often adversarial, an example of tough love taken to its logical conclusion. But he quickly reconnects with, Shanda (Daveigh Chase – Spirited Away), a childhood friend from whom he receives the kind of genuine sympathy and understanding that doesn’t consist of mindless sympathy-card condolences. He also forms a kind-of friendship with Duncan (Louis Hunter), a gay 19-year-old neighbour with a subtle predatory streak. But the discovery of a cassette tape left for him by his father sets Jack off on a path of self-discovery which is to have devastating consequences.
Actor Thomas Dekker wrote and directed Jack Goes Home following the death of his own father, an episode which threw him into a deep depression, and which is reflected in the film’s highly personal nature. Certain aspects of the film make little sense until the final reveal, but there is nevertheless something compelling about Jack’s increasingly irrational behaviour, and Culkin, whose fragile, vaguely dissolute, features are a perfect fit for the part, exudes exactly the kind of brittle edginess the part demands.
Jack Goes Home is often an uneasy watch; it’s strange and intense, and is better classified as dark drama than horror, even though it contains unmistakable elements of that genre. It’s certainly not for all tastes, but if it is your kind of thing, you won’t be disappointed.
(Reviewed 1st November 2016)