J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Jack Goes Home: Lin Shaye Kills It

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross would have to create a whole new stage of grieving for Jack Thurlowe’s mother. It seems to mainly involve belittling her grown son. Returning for his father’s funeral would be difficult for the mopey twentysomething regardless, but there definitely seems to be some kind of evil influence in the air throughout Thomas Dekker’s Jack Goes Home (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Thurlowe’s hipster brooding is about to be interrupted by some terrible news. His father was killed in a car crash that also left his mother Theresa injured. After skyping his pregnant but not quite married girlfriend Cleo, Thurlowe leaves LA for a very Upstate New York looking Colorado to tend to his mother and handle his father’s arrangements. Viewers will quickly conclude the wrong parent died.

Theresa does not have much time for polite conventions and she no longer seems to care about Jack’s feelings. We soon get the sense there is something off about her, well beyond the expected stress. Essentially, a cold war develops between them, with several skirmishes fought over the family dog she evidently never liked. Things really get tense when Jack gets the urge to investigate his past, starting in the attic. Fortunately, Thurlowe’s life-long platonic lesbian pal Shanda also came home to provide moral support. She was always rather intimidated by Theresa, for reasons we can well understand.

Dekker (previously a teen actor recognizable from Fox’s Terminator: The Sarah Connors and Gregg Araki’s Kaboom) would have a much harder time slipping his big Shyamalan twist past the audience were it not for Lin Shaye’s ferocity as Theresa. Poor Rory Culkin is basically walking into a buzz saw, because he absolutely wilts under her stern glare. It might be Jack’s homecoming, but it is her movie.

Daveigh Chase also brings some earthy attitude as Shanda and Natasha Lyonne is quite memorable in her extended cameo. However, Britt Robertson mostly gets stuck with thankless skype scenes as the mega-preggers Cleo.

JGH is the sort of film you almost want to re-watch to see how each scene plays in light of the climatic game-changer. However, the film’s real attraction is Lin Shaye doing her darnedest Mommie Dearest act. This performance is everything lemming critics made out Meryl Streep to be in the (wrong kind of) horror show that was August: Osage County. Recommended for fans of psychological horror and thrillers, Jack Goes Home opens this Friday (10/14) in New York, at the Cinema Village.

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