Director: Garth Maxwell

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

In the New Zealand horror thriller Jack Be Nimble (1993), orphaned brother & sister (Alexis Arequette & Sarah Smuts-Kennedy) are adopted into differing circumstances. The boy is taken into the hinterland by a family of white trash psychopaths. The girl gets to live with a nice urban couple, though even she becomes a depressive wreck always bullied at school for being different.

The psycho family consists of an evil abusive mom & physically violent dad plus their three sinister daughters. In shop class at school, abused weirdo Jack builds a totally bizarre if rather artful blinking-light memerist's device. By what means he learned to make such a thing the viewer never learns. He uses it to induce his adoptive father to go lay down in the road as a truck plows over him, & mom to climb on a limb out over a cliff's edge so that she falls to her death, cursing the lad on her last breath with a promise of revenge.

He sets off for the big city looking for his sister, not realizing the three daughters whom he spared will soon be tracking him down, killing whoever gets in the path of their vengeance.

His sister Dora has a vague psychic connection to Jack. Her mental abilities in general are driving her deeper into depression until she meets a much older man (Bruno Lawrence) who shares her abilities.

In exchange for sex with the near-child, Teddy can keep the voices from impinging on every minute of her life. Their age disparity renders Teddy kind of creepy, but not more so than the rest of the cast, & all things being relative, he's not the worst thing that can or will happen with Dora.

Jack with his back scarred from whippings is truly messed up in the head. When he tracks down Dora, her devotion induces her to begin caring for him though he's clearly been driven mad by his experiences. As the ghost of the vengeful adoptive mom assaults Dora through her psychic powers, & the three witchy daughters manage to capture Jack, there's just no shortage of event in this rather busy tale of horror & the supernatural.

Despite a mixed bad of ordinary to awful acting, & equally uneven cinematography, there are moments in the film that are almost moving. At times it bogs down under the weight of unnecessary complexities. The three weird sisters have an effectively yucky presence, but Jack's way too unlikeable & altogether too whiny to care if they get him or not. But the fate of Dora at least matters & her part of the story sustains interest.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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