Jack Goes Home full movie review - A Harrowing Psychological Trip...
While "Jack Goes Home" may be the first major directorial debut of actor/composer Thomas Dekker, it reads light years from any 'novice' effort on his behalf.
The script itself, also written by Dekker, is a harrowing tale of a young magazine editor who finds out that his beloved father has died in a car accident back in his hometown and he must return to set his affairs in order. Along the way, accompanied by his jaded and nihilistic best friend (Daveigh Chase), he begins to unravel some very unsettling family secrets and long-buried skeletons in the old homestead.
It's hard to describe the film or give an accurate synopsis because the twists and turns unfold slowly and with such intensity that it would be a crime to deprive the readers of their own journey. Rory Culkin is absolutely magnetic as Jack and it is impossible to look away from him on screen. He is matched by veteran actress Lin Shaye, who takes a sharp divergence from her recent 'Insidious' roles to play Jack's unstable, emotionally- manipulative and completely jaw-dropping inappropriate mother. The supporting performances by Daveigh Chase and Louis Hunter are equally charismatic and effective; Hunter plays the depraved boy-next-door neighbor. With brief roles from Britt Roberson as Jack's fiancée and Nikki Reed as Chase's girlfriend, the cast stays small and intimate, adding to the claustrophobic and smothering emotional tone of the film.
The film is shot beautifully, with stunning visuals. And it has several creepy and startling moments, as well as a few genuinely unsettling scares. Most of the horror, however, isn't of the breed one finds in a traditional scary movie. Instead, the horror of "Jack" comes from within; it's in the nightmarish unraveling of a family unit, the internal and external pressures that are putting cracks in Jack's sanity as the film progresses, and the reveals that challenge everything Jack once held dear.
The movie is a deeply personal vehicle for Dekker, who suffered childhood abuse as well as lost his beloved father a few years ago, so the moments of emotional truth in the film ring clear as a bell and honest in what could easily be lost to pretense or false sympathies. One can feel the pain of Dekker's loss channeled so beautifully through Culkin and can't look away, a slow-motion autopsy of a grieving soul.
All in all, a strong narrative film with bold, unconventional choices and unrelentingly powerful performances from its small indie cast. Highly recommended to those who like psychological drama and horror films that aren't afraid to show their heart instead of gratuitous gore and jump scares.