Demonic Toys: Jack-Attack Movie Review

Written by Kat Albrecht

Released by Full Moon Features

demonic toys jack attack poster large

Written and directed by William Butler
2023, 59 minutes, Rated NC-17
Released on September 1st, 2023

Sean Ramey as Tyler Yost
Maddie Small as Starr
Taylor Abigail Rice as Dewey Yost
Mabel Thomas as Audrey Haines

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Demonic Toys: Jack-Attack tells the harrowing story of an orphaned girl named Lily and a sinister Jack-in-the-box that is out for blood.

If this sounds familiar, you might be thinking about the 1992 direct-to-video film Demonic Toys and its four sequels (and a television spin-off) released between 1993 and 2021. Happily, Jack-Attack’s Charles Band (producer) and William Butler (director/writer) have long been involved with the franchise. Fans will recall not just Jack, but also other family unfriendly toys like Baby Oopsie Daisy, Grizzly Teddy, Mr. Static, Zombietoid, Divoletto, and Toy Soldier. There are plenty of nods to the larger world of demonic toys in the current effort, but they do not distract a viewer who isn’t familiar with the series. Generally, films in the Demonic Toys series have been panned by critics, except for those that applaud the movies as campy, silly fun.

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When it comes to Jack-Attack, I fall firmly into the second camp. Butler and Band have gifted us a campy and absurd flick packed full of fun kills in its sub-60-minute runtime. Lead actresses Sofia Castellanos and Mabel Thomas offer sincere performances that contrast nicely with the trickster Jack. The character arcs are generally left somewhat under-developed, but this is perfectly fine because we’re really all here for the glory of people being killed by a Jack-in-the-box.

On that front, visual effects maestro Dave Matherly has outdone himself. The primarily practical effects are both fun and convincing, with the idea of a snake-like mini clown being both wildly comedic but also very disturbing. Jack in his many forms is revealed almost immediately in the frame narrative, so viewers do not have long to wait to see what I mean.

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Onto a couple things I did not like. First, the subplot with the influencer sister do not feel necessary. There are also some hints of subplots, like the implied creepy foster father and a potential romantic interest, that never come to fruition. Given the film’s very short runtime, there is either plenty of space to explore some of these or nothing stopping them from being zapped altogether. Take, for example, the older sister character Dewey. The script is determined to sell us that Dewey is a petulant teen wannabe influencer. But apparently, they forgot they cast a fully adult-looking actress in the role. As a result, Dewey’s rude comments to the younger Lily coupled with her social media-fixation make her seem like a strange adult bully instead of parodying the average sulky teen. Additionally, some characters are present for their demise, but we are robbed of a fully realized Jack Attack. Perhaps the brevity of the film is meant to lend an anthological feeling to a larger collection, but I’m always available for more clown kills whenever possible.

However, by far the most aggravating thing in the movie is the establishing shot of the house over and over. To put it another way, if I took a shot every time they showed that establishing shot, I would be dead.

Overall, Demonic Toys: Jack-Attack is a glorious homage to an era of practical effects films where fun is just as important as scares. And if the director won’t make it longer – then he’d better make another one!

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Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover

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Kat Albrecht
Staff Reviewer
Kat Albrecht is a legally trained sociologist and computational social scientist studying how complex data can inform policy, with particular emphasis on the nexus of fear, criminal data, and the law. In other words, she’s a college professor who studies horror films sometimes. Her research specialties are practical special effects, creature features, and arguing about the meaning of genre. Kat will gleefully review any film that takes place in the ocean or in outer space and exclusively paints portraits of herself.
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