‘Jackals’ (2017) – A Horrific Yet Satisfying Cult Movie

When I watched the trailer for Jackals, it seemed to me that this film was going to be The Strangers with the volume nob turned up 1,000 notches. Everything about it intrigued me. I have a bit of an obsession with cult-related things, and I could not wait to be able to give the film a watch. Before pressing play, I took a deep breath and hoped that I would not be let down. So, was I?

Starring Deborah Kara Unger, Stephen Dorff, and Johnathon Schaech, Jackals has some serious talent behind it. Unger is known for the 2015 film The Hollow, while Stephen Dorff has been peppered throughout films for the last 30 years. He was most recently in the highly anticipated prequel Leatherface. but is probably best known in his role in 1987’s The Gate.

Tell me, who doesn’t remember Johnathon Schaech? My favorite film of his is Hush (1998) back when he was hot, young eye candy. Now, he is totally rocking the older, mysterious gentleman look. I could seriously write an entire paragraph about this man’s looks, but this is about his talent. He completely knocks the role of a desperate father out of the fucking park and is the standout performance in this intense film.

Director Kevin Greutert had been behind the camera for the last two Saw films and was even an editor on the epic film Titanic. Greutert’s talent behind the camera coupled with Jared Rivet’s writing style comes to life onscreen before our eyes. It’s a grand symphony of pain and suffering, in a good way of course. I hope that they get a chance to work together again in the future.

Jackals is a movie about a family abducting their son so they can deprogram him from the brainwashing he had endured from a cult. While doing so, the cult shows up and wants what has been stolen from them. In the middle of nowhere, this family will learn that they will be fighting for more than just one life tonight. They will be fighting for theirs as well.

The film does a great job on all aspects of the film. The intro gives us a chance to get to know the characters. Then, they sort of gloss over a few things that are actually quite important to point out. Had I not read the description, I wouldn’t have known exactly what was happening until later in the film. However, I think they were trying to basically condition us to feel the isolation they had purposefully put themselves in.

Once they have abducted their son and started the de-programming process, we are shown why such extreme measures have been taken. Their son has essentially detached himself from everyone, mentally and physically, and that includes his own child. There are so many chilling moments during this portion of the film. The things that come out of this guy’s mouth are disturbing, to say the least. At this point, Jackals feels like a heavy drama… that is until the horror element shows up.


After leaving behind one of the cult members during the initial abduction of their son, word has gotten back to the cult as to what happened. They are not pleased. They show up in droves and it only makes us, the viewer, feel all the more helpless for the poor family in the path of the cult’s destruction.

Jackals is overflowing with suspense. Once the cult shows up to the family’s lavish cabin, you will be on the edge of your seat for the rest of the ride. It feels as if the family are just fish in an aquarium being watched by their owners. Where can they really go when they are surrounded, without transportation, and completely outnumbered?


The members of the cult in Jackals is where this film shines brightest. They are so cold and calculated. These people are not in a hurry nor are they in the business of making mistakes. Killing members of this family is not their goal, but if they must, then they must. All they really want is their missing member back. From the moment they arrive, it is clear who is in control of themselves and who is not. This cult as a whole was the shining star of this movie. I hope we can see more of them in the future.

There isn’t much criticism I can give this film. I think they could have gotten to the standoff quicker, but that might have taken away from the necessary buildup. There is a definite payoff for sticking around as it does pick up, and the acting was fantastic as well. All in all, I thought this was a very well done horror film, and I hope that the writers and director continue to bless us with their work.

About Preston Holt

At 5 years old i was catapulted in to the horror genre and have had no desire to ever leave it. I'm 26 years old with a great sense of humor and a thirst for the horror industry that just will never be quenched. I have a horror review site of my own called cabinintheweb reviews and when I'm not writing about, or watching, horror films, I am spending time with my spouse and my animals.

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