Demonic Toys: Jack-Attack

09/07/2023 09:35

Film: Demonic Toys: Jack-Attack

Year: 2023

Director: William Butler

Writer: William Butler

Starring: Sofia Castellanos, Mabel Thomas and Sean Ramey



This is a movie that I didn’t know was coming out until Scandal Coactive sent me a copy of the screener for review. I’ll say that I was a big fan of the first two growing up. I’ve seen at least two of the new sequels that came out in recent memory. I’m not sure that I’m fully caught up though. With the chance to see this, the part of me that grew up with Full Moon films was excited to give this a go.

Synopsis: a young, orphaned girl without the ability of speech finds that she has been gifted with the notorious Jack-in-the-Box from the Demonic Toys.

We start this inside of a house in the middle of what looks like an attack. Lily (Sofia Castellanos) has an axe and Mrs. Benson (Tari Lyn Bergoine) appears out of a room. It turns out that there is a clown after them as well as the Jack-in-the-Box. The older woman is killed and we cut away.

It then takes us to a meeting between Mrs. Culver (Donna Steele), Audrey Haines (Mabel Thomas), Tyler (Sean Ramey) and his wife Kate Yost (Christine Brunner). The discussion is over Lily and what to do with her. The Yosts were related to the late Mrs. Benson. They want Lily to stay with them. They have fostered others and are currently in the care of a teenager around the age of Lily. Mrs. Culver doesn’t think it is a good idea. Audrey is pushing for them to take custody, despite what this older woman thinks. Audrey makes an executive decision and Lily will stay with the Yosts.

Lily is struggling from that attack. She hasn’t spoken since and stays in her room drawing her attackers. This causes her to be bullied by another orphan, Rochelle (Brooklynn Johnson). She also makes a comment about the family that is taking Lily in.

They arrive at the farmhouse that belong to the Yosts. It is there we meet the other young lady being fostered, Dewey (Taylor Abigail Rice). She is an ‘influencer’ working to get 5k subscribers. She is constantly on her phone as you can imagine. The Yosts also have a son, Mike (Carson Polish). He has a girlfriend who stops by Starr (Maddie Small). She is jealous thinking that her boyfriend is interested in Lily. There is also a farmhand, Clinton (Tim Novotny).

This last person decides to open up the box of items belonging to Lily. It is kept in the barn. What he finds it more than he bargained for as he is killed by Jack-in-the-Box. It is a matter of time before others in the house are attacked by what Lily fears the most. This is what Mrs. Culver was warning them about, but she knows more than she let on.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I’ll start is that I’ve seen all the movies that fall into the franchise preceding this according to the Internet Movie Database. I know there’s a spin-off for Baby Oopsie, but it doesn’t look like it is part of this. There are references though with a toy collector talking about toys being possessed by demons. This is a minor subplot that is on the news and a newspaper clipping. I don’t hate these aspects to be honest. This has a runtime of less than an hour and giving this backstory worked. I just think it needed to be fleshed out more.

Let me then start with the positives. First is the runtime. This flies by. I also love this character of Jack-in-the-Box. I do need to admit, I prefer the original look to what we get here, but Full Moon has also lost a bit of its heart in my opinion as well. Introducing this clown that works with the toy was interesting. It is quite creepy. What they do with the practical effects here is good. There is a bit of blood and an aftereffect or two with attacks. Positives there. I even like this new lore of a collector, wanting to send these possessed toys out in the world. That opens things up for sequels, another thing that Full Moon loves. There is also a twist here at the end of the story that I don’t know if I’m fully on board with. At least for one of the characters involved.

Now to move to negatives. This movie is too rushed. We get a decent opening set piece. It then slows down to introduce our characters. That is all fine. It then has Audrey say she needs to leave, then it is like two in the morning. She hasn’t left yet though. I doubt this family ate dinner with her at midnight. It feels like no one stopped to consider the timeline they were working with. There is a kill around when everyone arrives at the farmhouse. It then takes too long for the next one. We also have a subplot of Tyler being creepy that wasn’t needed. There isn’t a payoff there either. It just feels like this movie rushed to finish shooting and left out important parts to the story that would make this flow more coherently. We don’t get enough killing for it to work. It is a shame as I think we have something here. I also found a plot hole with a newspaper clipping in a book while this story is on the news. It is possible, but highly unlikely since Lily didn’t have the book after Audrey took it. Easily fixed. It just seems convenient.

Since I’ve leaned into parts of filmmaking, let me finish my thoughts there. The cinematography is fine. I like the setting of this isolated farm. It isn’t too far from where I live now. This was filmed in Mansfield and I live in Columbus, Ohio. The area also feels like where I grew up in Michigan. I can appreciate that. The CGI that we get isn’t great. Thankfully, they cut away from it so it doesn’t look as bad. That was strategic so credit there. I’ve also seen much worse from Full Moon. Other than that, I’d say the soundtrack was fine. It fit what was needed. There is a misstep not leaning into the Jack-in-the-Box laughing more. That was one of the signature parts about in the past that made it scary.

All that is left then is with the acting. Castellanos was fine as our lead. She doesn’t talk for a good portion of that so it helps. I thought she did well with the fear she showed about her predicament. She looks like life has beat her up. I like Thomas as this woman who has a similar upbringing wanting to help, even if it means losing her job. Ramey was good for the most part. I loathe that they introduce him as creepy and then not going anywhere with it. Rice felt like an annoying ‘wannabe influencer’. It fits the times. Other than that, Polish, Novotny, Bergoine, Brunner, Steele and Johnson were fine. Small was as well, but I don’t know why they also forced her character to be ‘jealous’ of Lily. This was something that doesn’t fit what we saw.

In conclusion, this could have been better than what it is. There are good elements here to create a new backstory for the Demonic Toys and Jack-in-the-Box. The problem is that it feels like there are scenes missing that could bridge what we got. I like the deaths that we see. The villains are creepy looking and the practical effects were fine. This just feels rushed and I needed just a bit more. Not a poorly made movie so I’ll give them that. I’d only recommend to fans of the modern Full Moon productions or of this series.


My Rating: 5 out of 10