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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Review: The Jack In The Box

Director: Lawrence Fowler
Screenplay: Lawrence Fowler
Year: 2020

The trailer for “The Jack In The Box” has been roaming the internet for quite some time, but it isn’t until now that it’s finally released. Since I saw the trailer for this movie it caught my attention for the interesting concept it brings, but for some reason, it was released without much fanfare and going under the radar of many and this is never a good sign for any movie.

A strange jack in the box is found buried underground and is donated to a museum. Casey, a museum employee, becomes fascinated with the jack in the box until he starts to suspect that the clown in the box has a life of its own and evil plans. His co-workers start disappearing one by one and Casey is convinced that these disappearances have something to do with the mysterious jack in the box.

The initial scene of “The Jack In The Box” is effective in providing the necessary information about the entity that lives inside the box visually, but it also exposes its limitations. One of the most important limitations is that the attacks from the clown that lives in the box mostly happen off-screen, something that significantly dropped my expectations with this movie. Surely this is a budget limitation, but one that greatly affected the horror element of this movie.

An even worse problem is the script of also director Lawrence Fowler ("Curse of the Witch’s Doll"), who in his second feature-length movie works around a lineal and simple story, which he tries to make deeper with too much exposition and background information about the main characters that hold little relationship with the plot. This makes the pacing of the plot development to be way too slow and that the weakness in the acting by protagonists Ethan Taylor (“Blood and Bones”) and Lucy-Jane Quinlan (“Tucked”) surfaces.

What keeps the viewer engaged in the story is the original concept and the design of the clown. Terrifying clowns we see hundreds per year and their popularity remains intact, but the clown that is really a demon in “The Jack In The Box” is one of the most impressive and effective ones. Its background story and rules are interesting, but the lack of gore and having little time on screen, contrasted with the long unnecessary dialogue scenes, wastes its potential.

“The Jack In The Box” brings an original and interesting concept and a terrifying clown/demon, but the execution of it doesn’t make the most out of its virtues. The clown has little screen time and in general, there are not many horror moments and instead, we are treated to endless scenes of dialogues and background information from the main characters that try to get into the emotional side of the viewer, but only manage to make it boring. The few scenes in which the clown shows up leave the viewer wishing that it would have been featured more, have more gore and less of the awful CGI.

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