Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry (Julian Richings) didn’t start out as Satanists*. But once their grandson Jackson dies, well, their lives have changed. They want him back no matter what it takes, no matter who gets hurt, even if their first rule is that the pregnant woman they have taken, Becker, is not to be harmed.
There’s no way this can end well for anyone.
Director Justin G. Dyck has somehow already figured out what older horror makers have gleaned, but at a much earlier age. He’s directing plenty of holiday movies like Christmas In the Rockies and Christmas Wedding Planner, movies that are full of innocence and joy, while also making a movie where a kindly older couple bakes cookies when they aren’t bringing animals back from the dead. I’d blame writer Keith Cooper for being a bad influence, but he’s also written several similar films like A Very Country Wedding (with Dyck directed) and My Dad Is Scrooge.
The closer the couple at the heart of this film gets to a reverse exorcism — putting Jackson’s soul into the place of an infant’s consciousness — the more people die in increasingly horrific, if not comedic ways. They also have a circle of black magic users, whose leader Ian may not have their best interests in mind. Imagine that.
This film seems like The House of the Devil, if we emphasized more with the Ulman’s than with Samantha. Sadly, where that movie picks up steam and blows you away with its ending, this one wildly shifts tone in the last few minutes and closes with an ambiguous ending that felt less like closure and more like filmmakers wondering how to finish things.
Imagine if Rosemary’s Baby didn’t end the way it did after all that build.
That’s why this is a pretty good movie — struggling for great — but the end just felt like a ton of monsters being thrown at the viewer and the focus being pulled from who we care about to someone who hasn’t been the protagonist. It’s hard to care about someone more than the people we’ve been told to care about, you know?
That said, this remains heads and shoulders above most of what passed for horror in 2020. I definitely think its worth a watch and you can check it out on Shudder.
*By this, we mean the kind of Satanists that this movie claims are Satanists. We all know The Church of Satan has nothing to do with this kind of thing, but would possibly appreciate the dark choices and black humor of this movie.