Tubi: The Jack in the Box

Or not Tubi.

The Jack in the Box is on Tubi but it isn’t a Tubi Original film, which is kinda like saying you’re not an alcoholic but you went to AA anyway and got the coin because you appreciate metalwork. The film was directed by Lawrence Fowler who you might know from Curse of the Witch’s Doll, a film that looks just crap enough to be crap but in an endearing 2 stars out of 10 on IMDB way.

The Jack in the Box is a low budget British horror film shot at the cost of two Little Caesars pizzas and a small Coke. It stars Ethan Taylor as Casey Reynolds, aka Personality McFreshStart. Casey is an American who moves to bloody ol’ England for a clean start and to escape from his troubled past, a trope that has never been used in horror films ever.

Casey comes across a vintage jack in the box working his new job at a museum and after people start going missing Casey begins to suspect that Jack might just be behind all of it. Also raising his suspicion is that the jack in the box is clearly haunted, and I assume Ethan Taylor read the script.

The real star of this film is Robert Nairne who plays Jack and is probably more famous for being the creature and droid puppeteer on the last five Star Wars films. Nairne is one hell of a talented bastard, and his puppeteering really shines bright when he gets into the Jack costume and starts walking around. His movement aren’t so much inhuman as they are odd, like a jack in the box that doesn’t have a sturdy spine trying to walk as a six foot something biped.

The other real stars are the people who put together Jack’s costume. The costume’s mask has a bunch of moving parts that make it look extra creepy even if it does come off like they put Joker makeup on an orc from Lord of the Rings. Makeup artists Isabella Larter and Annmarie Malley, as well as Bobb Strongman on visual effects have come together to make an indie film monster that could easily be at home in a big budget blockbuster film. Oh and they manage to make the injuries look real instead of lipstick dragged across the face.

The jack in the box prop itself does look professionally done, even if it does carry the pose and expression of an old man who farted and is gleefully waiting for someone to notice. It’s obvious that the budget of TJITB went to the costume and the box and the film is just fine for it.

The worst part of the film is in the ADR and sound quality. Actors often turn away from the microphone and start mumbling so their voice doesn’t get picked up. I’m not sure how this got past the editing stage. It also sounds like a couple scenes were dubbed after, and badly. Maybe they dubbed those scenes, heard how bad it sounded, and just went with the original takes.

Ultimately The Jack in the Box is some shclocky crap and it’s right up the alley of people who love that kind of stuff. The plot is nothing to write home about but the actors are perfectly acceptable playing their roles. What you’re really here for is the monster and that is just beautiful.

Rating: B-

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