"Jack O' Lantern" DVD
Lions Gate serves up
a whole new batch of better than mediocre with "Jack O'
Lantern," a direct to video surprise involving car wrecks and
more hicks than
you'll care to count.
So what we have here
is Jack, a man who's been having a rough year. He was
in a car accident, and ever since, he's been having some really
dreams. But it gets worse--Jack's visions are taking on a deadly
their own, and each of them reveal just a little more hidden truth
accident, and the plot that Jack has found himself a part of.
What you're going to
notice almost immediately is the pumpkin they're carving
in the first minute. That does NOT look like a pumpkin. It looks
rubber, is what it looks like. Why not carve an ACTUAL pumpkin?
But it does improve from
here. In fact, you begin to wonder just what kind
of movie you're watching here, as a couple of redneck blood-drinking
killers are themselves attacked by something in the woods around
In point of fact, the first ten minutes have precious little to
do with the
rest of the movie, except as a means to introduce our primary monster.
is an extremely odd approach to take, and yet on some basic level,
The really interesting
thing about "Jack O' Lantern" is how it takes all
these separate plot threads--the sequence at the beginning, Jack
adoptive family, the five college kids who behave like something
out of "I
Know What You Did Last Summer" (except for a change, WE DON'T!)
and links it
all together in a cohesive, coherent whole. This makes for a unique
highly watchable film.
But this watchability
is tempered by horrible special effects work. For
example, check out the first appearance of our jack-o-lantern
character--you'll need to frame advance, it's over that quickly--and
we're working with here.
A public service announcement
hits us like a pickup that isn't paying
attention at the forty one minute mark--hang up the phone and drive.
The prize for "Sublimely Screwed Up Moment" goes to one
hour and twelve
seconds exactly. Check this out. This is beyond belief. One of our
leads, eyes wide, is clutching a teddy bear and a Glock. At least
it's a Glock...may just be your standard 9mm.
The joke is, I'm not
kidding! Look at this! Look at it and see if you can't
suppress a giggle or two.
Even more unintentional
laughs come from the sequence at one hour seven
minutes and sixteen seconds. Start up your frame advances to watch
face do this odd little morphing deal.
It's odd, but the plot
somehow manages to be fantastically original and
alarmingly derivative all at the same time. Despite the originality
hiding all the disparate elements' connections until the end, it's
basically the same old slasher movie it usually is. It compares
easily with "I Know What You Did Last Summer," or "Urban
"Scream," or any combination thereto. Kevin Williamson
"Jack O' Lantern." And you may find that a good thing.
The ending does a surprisingly
good job of bringing all the loose ends
together, which is generally what an ending is supposed to do. The
"Jack O' Lantern" managed to hold the secrets until the
end, with only a
minimum of giving anything away is an achievement of no small note--let's
face it, folks...you had to suspect they were involved in something,
movie did do a fair job of keeping suspicion off the kids involved
as long as
At least until the rather
incomprehensible twist...what was with that,
anyway? Did we just need one last excuse to show off the giant pumpkin
The special features
include a behind the scenes featurette, audio options,
subtitles in English and Spanish, plus trailers for "Jack O'
"Bloody Mallory", "Zodiac Killer", "Vampire
Assassin", "Fugitive Hunter", and
for some strange reason, the only theatrical release in the bunch,
What, couldn't we slap yet another screening of the "Saw II"
All in all, "Jack
O' Lantern" will offer up the most original derivative plot
with special effects cheap enough to be called direct-to-video.
It's not all
that bad. It's nothing great, but it's certainly not all that bad.
GRADE: 4 stars ****
Dave R. Watkins
Kevin L. Powers
Barry Normin R