Movie Review: The Jack in the Box: Awakening (2022)

Synopsis: Given only one more month to live because of the bone cancer that has left her bedridden, the wealthy Olga Marsdale obtains an ancient Jack in the Box and makes a deal with the demon inside - the lives of six victims in exchange for healing her. Her son reluctantly helps her find victims but the new housekeeper, Amy Proctor, begins to suspect something is going on.

Who's in it? The movie stars Matt McClure, Nicola Wright, James Swanton, Mollie Hindle and Michaela Longden

Review: While my wife and I found a lot of things wrong with The Jack in the Box when we watched it earlier this month, we were both interested in seeing if the sequel The Jack in the Box: Awakening would be any better. After all, the premise wasn't terrible, just the overall execution. We finally got around to doing that last night and, unfortunately, our opinion about the franchise really didn't change.

I thought the plot had some good things going for it. The idea of summoning a demon to spare your life isn't a new one but I did like how Olga's (Wright) son (McClure) was the one responsible for carrying out her wishes, forcing him to fight a conflict between his moral values and his "momma's boy" nature. And to be honest, I was a bit surprised he was willing to go along with it considering it at first seemed like he would be glad to see his mother die (and collect her money).

I also thought the setting worked out really well. It was an isolated manor with no cell signal or landline telephone and a locking gate. It made the Jack's (Swanton) victims a bit more vulnerable as a result because they weren't able to call for help or escape easily.

My biggest problem with this movie is the same problem I had with the first film; it is drawn out to the point it is almost painful to watch. Instead of being on the edge of my seat and worrying the main protagonist, Amy (Hindle), won't be able to escape, I found myself instead counting the number of victims to see if the film was almost over. As was the case with the first movie, the 90-minute runtime seemed a whole lot longer and there were times when it felt as though we were watching it for hours and it wasn't even halfway over.

I also still feel like the Jack needs a better explanation as far as rules are concerned. For example, it seems like he had limitations relating to how far he could go to kill someone (something that ultimately helps Amy) but that's never explained, along with why he needs to kill one at a time rather than just kill everyone at once. Plus, the whole "six victims" thing still seems like a weird number, especially since only requiring three victims might have made the movie a little less bogged down. In addition, I wasn't completely sure what Olga was getting in exchange. Was the demon just healing her or was she gaining eternal life? I don't know if details like that would have made the movie better, but it would have made it a bit less confusing.

Final Opinion: I like the idea but once again wasn't thrilled with the execution. With better pacing, this could have been a terrifying film. Instead, it was a movie my wife and I both had trouble staying awake while watching.

My Grade: C


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