From its opening frames, Jacklight feels indicative of the rash of independent films that glutted the marketplace in the mid-Nineties. Cast of largely amateur actors? Check. An Important Narrative About Life and Death? Check. Overly long and in dire need of a judicious editor? Check. Fueled with heart and soul but an unclear sense about where to go or how to end things? Check.
Written and directed by Texan Steven Hentges, it's clear that Jacklight was made on a threadbare shoestring budget and there are moments where this post-high school reunion/buddy's death movie (five friends reunite after graduating and the sudden death of a pal) sparks to semi-life. But it can't help feeling like a concept that would've been better served by a short film rather than this turgid, seemingly endless feature length project. Clip a couple of the overly used montage sequences and it's a step in the right direction.
While the largely amateur cast does some admirable work given their lack of experience, you'll be too bored to care by the time Jacklight wraps things up. It's a so-so debut that marks Hentges as someone who has a cinematic vision, but needs someone to help him find it.
Jacklight, despite this disc being the "10th anniversary edition," looks horrible here - washed out, grainy images that look as though the film were shot on videotape, make the nighttime sequences (of which they're a few) a blur of pixels and smearing. This 1.33 fullscreen image is difficult to watch, which makes the film a bit of a slog.
The audio, Dolby 2.0 stereo, has a little bite to it, but it's also a little harsh in the higher end. Dialogue is generally intelligible, but for the most part, it's a muddy mix without a lot of clarity or warmth.
A fullscreen theatrical trailer is the lone extra here.
Fans of all stripes of indie cinema may find something to sink their teeth into here but Jacklight, through its hat trick of iffy film, nasty transfers and head-scratching lack of "anniversary" bonus material make this one a pass.