Review by: Lucy Goes To Hollywood
Rating: *** 1/2
The horror genre has its fair share of creepy clowns. Whether it’s Pennywise in Stephen King’s It, or Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses, they’ve been scaring audiences for years.
Clowns are scary because they’re meant to be children’s entertainers, yet do some horrifying things on-screen. The Jack in the Box takes the root of this fear to a whole new level, and turns a children’s toy into something seriously creepy. Yikes.
The Jack in the Box is based on the French legend that they were built to contain evil spirits within them. In fact, the literal French translation of ‘diable en boîte’ is ‘devil in a box’, making it a great inspiration for a horror tale like this one.
When Norman Cleaver (Philip Ridout) unearths a vintage jack in the box and brings it home, he’s at first delighted by his new find. But something awful happens and leads him to believe it has a life of its own.
12 years after Norman’s discovery, the box is found by museum worker Casey Reynolds (Ethan Taylor). Setting the film against a museum backdrop was a clever move, as the characters are surrounded by other creepy artefacts and are usually on their own.
Casey moved to the UK based on his love of antiques, revealing that he used to be a curator when he lived in the US. So it was only a matter of time before he took an interest in the jack in the box amongst the other museum artefacts.
He and his colleague Lisa Cartwright (Lucy-Jane Quinlan) discover that it was sent to the museum following a house clearance, and was simply labelled ‘unknown box’. Lisa tells him to open it up which, as you can imagine, was a terrible idea!
After opening the box, Casey unwillingly releases a spirit who is simply referred to as Jack, and proceeds to terrorise those around him, resulting in some fun scares and grisly moments.
The design of Jack is very impressive, reminiscent of an inhuman, Slenderman like creature. His appearance is equally as terrifying as his toy counterpart. Robert Nairne gives a terrifyingly brilliant performance here.
Jack is a twisted mix of clown and demon, with sharp teeth and a very gangly body. One thing’s for certain, you’ll never look at a jack in the box the same way again!
As well as the special effects, the sound design is also impressive. I loved the use of music and the twisted take on carnival music to further dial up the eeriness throughout the film. The infamous ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ tune for the box is used too, which I was pleased to see.
However, don’t go into this film expecting something totally unique. Whilst the concept of a creepy jack in the box is a good one, it doesn’t do much to elevate itself above films such as The Conjuring
or Annabelle, which use similar themes and creepy set pieces.
Whilst the story is quite formulaic, it’s a thoroughly entertaining horror, especially for those who prefer supernatural tales. It’s easy to watch and follow, and it seemed everyone involved in the project had a lot of fun doing it.
Lawrence Fowler’s fun, freaky take on the ‘creepy doll’ narrative is definitely worth a watch, but it doesn’t do anything extraordinary. It’s a nice popcorn film to enjoy on a cold, winter’s afternoon, and there’s nothing wrong with that.