SXSW ’16 exclusive: Rory Culkin talks “JACK GOES HOME”

Premiering at the current SXSW Film Festival as a Midnighter attraction next Monday, JACK GOES HOME is the story of a very strange homecoming, and the latest genre vehicle for young actor Rory Culkin, who gave FANGORIA some exclusive words on the movie.

Culkin, who played Mel Gibson’s son in M. Night Shyamalan’s SIGNS and has since appeared in the likes of SCREAM 4 and this year’s INTRUDERS (both of which he discussed here), has the title role in JACK GOES HOME. “He finds out that his father had died, so he has to go home for the funeral,” Culkin explains. “And then he finds these things in the attic and has this rush of memories of his childhood, all these things he forgot, and it just unravels from there. It’s crazy; I saw a cut of it a little while ago, and it’s madness. I feel like people who visit your site will really be into this one.”

JACK GOES HOME was written and directed by Thomas Dekker, another young performer with a long history in the genre, for whom this was an especially personal project. “It’s semi-autobiographical,” Culkin explains. “He didn’t take it too seriously—he was pretty light on set and everything—but I felt a responsibility in sort of playing this guy. There’s some pretty traumatic stuff in the film. It’s sort of like a graphic-novel version of his life.” A key theme, he adds, is “a child’s relationship with adults. It’s like that moment where you realize that if you push your dad, he’ll fall, you know what I mean? He’s just a guy, and you’re going to grow up to be just a guy.”

Amidst the domestic drama, there’s a strong dose of the surreal. “There are times in the film when you can’t really tell what’s real and what’s not, and it’s all very dreamlike,” Culkin says. “There was some debate on set while we were shooting certain scenes about whether this was really happening, or if it was in Jack’s mind. That was interesting to play with, especially when I started to think that we were creating everything that was going on, you know what I mean? I’d be in a scene that was all my imagination, and there’d be a camera crew and a sound guy in there, so it was all my imagination—I was in a movie. It got weird.”

JACK GOES HOME surrounds Culkin with a largely female supporting cast, including Nikki Reed (also a co-producer), Daveigh Chase from THE RING and DONNIE DARKO, Britt Robertson, Natasha Lyonne and the INSIDIOUS films’ Lin Shaye. “She’s amazing,” Culkin says of Shaye. “We played around with our scenes a little bit. There’s a scene where she pushes me up against a wall to tell me something, and we were sort of messing around in one take where she I acted like she had superhuman strength, and she was really into it, so we went with that. She’s a demon, she’s cool!”



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