lördag 18 april 2020

The Jack In The Box

I remember in the late 80´s, my little sister used to watch The Children´s Channel, a British TV channel filled with cartoons, children programs with very different content. And especially one children´s program that she used to watch was Jack In The Box, where a female TV host presented different cartoons with her dolls. But it was not the show itself that was creepy, it was the introduction of the show, with the cartoon clown puppet Jack jumping out from the box, with a big smile. I don´t think my sister thought that Jack looked creepy, but i did. You knew that this guy is trouble, right from the start. The concept of Jack in the box toys, originally started back in the 1500´s in Germany, where the first jack-in-the-box was made by a German clockmaker known as Claus. Over the years, the box toy developed with different material and different puppets inside. When it comes to films where you can see Jack in the box, we can find one in the B horror movie known as Demonic Toys, Released in 1992, this film is directed by Peter Manoogian. If you have seen the Puppet Master films from the 80´s and 90´s, then you could say that Demonic Toys borrow some of the concept of that franchise and add some other parts as well. But the one detail that should be mentioned, is that there is actually a Jack In The Box toy in this film, that loves human flesh. This is a fun film, where you see different toys attack humans in many different ways. You can find Demonic Toys on a 3 disc Blu Ray release in Germany, a wonderful release for B movie horror fans. Speaking of Jack In The Box, i was suprised to see that a low budget horror film, have been released with the title The Jack In The Box, with influences from the toy box we are all familiar with. And when i noticed that the puppet turns into a demonic clown, i knew this is a film for me. But the biggest question is, could The Jack In The Box be the best puppet horror film in a long time, or is this a big disappointment ?

Casey Reynolds ( Ethan Taylor ) begins to work at Hawthorne Museum, where he begin a friendship with museum worker Lisa Cartwright ( Lucy-Jane Quinlan ). A very old vintage Jack-In-The-Box toy was donated to the museum, and Casey is very curious to find out where this is originally from. With the help of Lisa, he begins to find out more information about this box. But no one would expect, that inside this box there is an evil, that no one is prepared for.

The Jack In The Box feels like a heart warming mixture of Midsomer Murders and Puppet Master, but with a murdering demon clown instead. It´s like having a wonderful English tea afternoon, you get a piece of all the cookies you want, with a traditional British atmosphere. With that said, i have to mention that this film does not focus on jump scares. This is a very good idea, since i prefer more traditional old school horror films. Another detail that this film does well, is trying to build up creepy tensions in some scenes, where you don´t see the clown stepping out of the box, but a smaller puppet version of him staring, with his evil eyes. Simple, but effective. The design of this clown is actually better than i expected, both as a puppet and in the full size version. When it comes to the acting, this film does have a few interesting characters. The best character, and also the most interesting character in this film is without a doubt, Jack the demonic clown. He looks really creepy, and the way he moves around works so well with the creepy atmosphere around him. Actor Robert Nairne ( who have worked on a number of horror films including Star Wars, who i especially rememember from the werewolf British horror film Howl ) does a really good job, portraying this evil clown. You can tell he knows how to portrait a very evil character, in his own unique way. Actress Lucy-Jane Quinlan ( who did a wonderful performance in the British drama film Tucked ) gives her character Lisa a personality that you feel a connection with. It is the first time i see actor Ethan Taylor in this film, and as a lead actor he does ok. The design of the box itself reminded me of the box in Hellraiser, with a different approach. And this is a detail that helps Jack in the box toy become more interesting. Director Lawrence Fowler have found a way to tell a story of a classic toy, and combine it with horror influences of the 80´s that is a great match. Maybe this film is a bit slow in some scenes, but when Jack shows up we are back on the right track. The Jack In The Box is a fun low budget horror film, that will surely be appreciated by Puppet Master fans. If you are looking for something to watch on VOD or on DVD, then i suggest you give The Jack In The Box a chance. Who kows, you might want to get your own box, just in case your complaining neighbors needs a lesson in manners.

Rating: DDD

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