Review: JACK GOES HOME
There are films like THE AVENGERS, where you walk into them to see things explode, silly superhero fare and a fun time. Then there are films that you watch to really hit a nerve with you, to challenge you and to invoke a sense of relation within you. I tend to gravitate towards those types of films, due to the fact that I like to feel, to feel human and weak and times, to confront those feelings. Thomas Dekker’s directorial debut, JACK GOES HOME, is just that kind of film, one that not only entertains you with an multi-layered story, but one that will help you address certain issues within yourself.
Following a car crash that leaves his father decapitated ans his mother slightly injured, eccentric and outspoken Jack (Rory Culkin, INTRUDERS), soon to be a father himself, heads home for his father’s funeral and to be there with his mom. Almost immediately after arriving, we’re given hints to the fact that things weren’t very good for Jack growing up and we see a rage in his mother (Lin Shaye in one of her best performances) that is downright terrifying, it’s as if she has somewhat of a hatred for her son. Jack brushes it off and continues to stay at his childhood home, seeing a male neighbor nude in his window, reconnects with his long-time friend and tries to make everything feel normal, but it’s obvious to us as viewers that Jack hasn’t obviously hasn’t come to terms with the passing of his father and the film rides that lack of addressing very real trauma until Jack is mysteriously told to look in the house’s attic, where he finds a chest full of things, the first being a cassette player, which has his father apologizing and telling him that he’s loved even with what happened. What DID happen you ask yourself?
What you then get, is Jack trying to find out why his mother seems to have always hated him, what his father meant and why he’s having so many flashback and intense premonitions or flashbacks. The less you know going into this one, the better, but what makes the film so profoundly beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time is how it deals with PTSD, how we do our best to forget awful, awful things that may have happened to us and how freeing it can be to confront those horrible things and what it can mean for our own mental health.
Dekker, mostly know for his always entertaining acting roles shows in JACK GOES HOME, that he can not only direct a heart-wrenching tale but also that he’s one hell of a writer, his characters are so fleshed out, so realistic, that any victim of abuse, whether physical, sexual or mental, can find a piece of themselves in the film. What we see isn’t at times what really IS, and the mysteries found in JACK GOES HOME really are top notch,. with each layer being pulled back without a fear of confronted some very intense inner demons. Dekker’s script is brought to horrific life by emotionally intense and sometimes scary performances by Lin Shaye and Rory Culkin, who put their 100% into this film, and it shows. It’s such an emotionally relevant film and to have such wonderful actors involved make it even better.
As a survivor of childhood abuse, this film touched me, triggered me and made me find a kinship to it, which is a testament to the film and story Dekker wove. It’s a masterful debut, one that forces you confront your demons and one that is not only an entertaining film, but an important one.