The film begins with the introduction of a young man who is haunted by a tragic past. Casey (Ethan Taylor) gets a new job working at a slow and quiet museum, and on his first day, he is invited to go through a stack of older items located in the storage room. While going through several artifacts and determining what’s junk and worth keeping for display, Casey finds an old vintage jack in the box with the name ‘Jack’ on it.
After conducting research, Casey feels he has just discovered a rather old Jack in the Box and becomes quite curious about it. But while working at the museum, he notices several odd incidences, and Casey gets highly suspicious, suspecting something is off. As more and more odd things occur, he suspects perhaps the vintage box he discovered is somewhat responsible. He speaks with a professional who reveals that The Jack in the Box concept has been debated for many years. Was it created to please young children as a toy, or to keep something far more sinister inside it?
The Jack in the Box is a fairly simple B-grade horror film that delivers a fun and thrilling concept. Given the film’s small cast and some of the locations, it’s evident that the film didn’t have a large, blockbuster budget. Some of the camera work is questionable, especially in one scene, leaving me shocked and annoyed that a major scene with such poor camera work was left in the final cut. That being said, while the film is basic and highly cheesy, I found myself admiring some of the costume designs. I was entertained, which is mostly due to the ‘clown demon’- I mean The Jack in the Box.
At first, the film has a pleasing element of suspense by keeping the demon and some of the kills off-screen. I can see why some would find this annoying as we watch key characters question over and over again all the strange events that continue to occur around them. Some audiences will enjoy the scares and creepiness; after all, we know an evil clown character is somewhere to be found.
The pacing is ok, but I found the third act’s plot and major reveals are far too predictable. It’s also obvious which characters are going to die, and even general outcomes are also predictable. The film’s characters are weak, especially the lead, Casey, who has a horrible past. He seems to enjoy focusing on himself and has moments where it feels as though he is ignorant about other people. It’s easy to cheer for the film’s villain, which is nothing new in a horror movie. It’s still fun, just not overly exciting.
Overall, while this film might not be the greatest horror movie of the year, it certainly has some solid ideas based on its low budget. Leading characters are generally cheesy and uninteresting. The film is predictable, and the final act is highly lazy and, again, obvious. Regardless, I still had an adequate time with this film and admired the effort and creativity going into it. The Jack in the Box (2019) is available on DVD from October 13th!