06th Oct2021

‘The Legend of Jack and Jill’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jo Barker, Sarah T. Cohen, Beatrice Fletcher, Clint Gordon, Lee Hancock, Sofia Lacey, Jay O’Connell, Danielle Ronald, Heaven-Leigh Spence, Abi Casson Thompson, Antonia Whillans | Written by Jack Peter Mundy, Tom Joliffe | Directed by Jack Peter Mundy

Well surprise, surprise…. Another week another Jagged Edge Productions film review makes it way to Nerdly. Yep the “Scott Jeffrey” fanboy bandwagon rolls on (I’m joking, though between myslef and Jim over at Voices From the Balcony it seems we’re the only people reviewing Jeffrey’s productions soemtimes). Only this time, apart from the Jagged Edge Productions moniker attached to this one, Jeffrey’s name is nowhere to be seen! But this is still in the Scott Jeffrey family, with Jack Peter Mundy, director of Dinosaur Hotel and camera operator on a number of producer Scott Jeffrey’s films, takes the reins; even adding his own twist to the script from Tom Joliffe, who’s penned the likes of Tooth Fairy 3, Witches of Amityville, and the recent slasher sequel Pretty Boy.

The film follows a trend in low-budget British horror, insomuch that it takes a familiar childhood trope and turns it on its head, making a bright, cheerful kids thing onto a film of sheer terror. We’ve had killer tooth fairies, leprechauns, cupid and now Jack and Jill, that perennial kids nursery rhyme favourite are turned into a couple of inbred, hillside-dwelling psychopathic killers!

Much like the just-reviewed It Came From Below, The Legend of Jack and Jill centres its story around grief. This time it’s a group of friends coming together to hike a trail in the British countryside in memory of their friend who had committed suicide. Big mistake! Why? Well it seems that a mother, saving her two children from an abusive father, lost her children to said countryside… well I say lost, but she had her kids run on up the hills whilst she face their abusive father head on; and we all know how that turns out! Mum dies, dad dies, kids grow up feral in the British woodlands. You know the usual.

I joke, but that’s essentially the same plot used a myriad of times in US-set hillbilly horror, so why not try it here in good old Blighty?! Its not just that plot The Legend of Jack and Jill borrows, it’s pretty much the entire format of similar films – disfigured antagonists stalk and killing a group. I didn’t say it was a complicated format though. Although tying in Jack and Jill, a favourite nursery rhyme taught in British schools (Is it still though? It’s been a good few decades since I was in Primary school!), gives the film an added edge and an extra air of horror – after all, nursery rhymes and fairy tales are often grounded in grim realities so why not take Jack and Jill to a somewhat logical, horrific, extreme?

Unfortunately for The Legend of Jack and Jill the two titular antagonists, well the actors under all the make-up, seem to be more interested in milking their performances than actually providing and real scares, both constantly over-egging their roles when confronting the group of hikers, and in some cases taking things so far that it all becomes ridiculously comical. Some reigning in of both performances would have gone a long way in injecting the film with more scares than laughs. There is a point where the filmmakers clearly aimed at making the titular duo more sympathetic – which, given how the film opens, is understandable, but that would only truly work if this Jack and Jill pairing didn’t have the aforementioned moments of comedy… Don’t get me wrong, laughs in a horror film alleviate the tension and provide some breathing room for an audience to relax before hitting them with another scare; but that only works if the laughs are intentional. Here they’re clearly not.

The Legend of Jack and Jill is all a bit of a letdown really, even Scott Jeffrey regulars Sarah T. Cohen (Medusa; HellKat; Cupid; Witches of Amityville) and Abi Casson Thompson (HellKat; Rise of the Mummy; The Candy Witch), can’t save this one from disappointing. Which is a real shame as I was REALLY looking forward to seeing a horror take on this classic nursery rhyme. There is a good script sitting at the heart of this one but its just brought to life in the wrong way – characters are too one-dimensional; performances are all over the place; the plot points often laboured; and the notions around suicide and grief get lost in the low-budget nature of the production. The one thing this film does get right however is the gender-bending of typical horror cliches – with the men captured and tortured by Jill rather than the opposite typically found in genre fare!

**½ 2.5/5

The Legend of Jack and Jill is available to watch now on YouTube.

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