It’s time to look at an old horror film by the name of strait jacket and like the Tingler it is ready with a few twists and turn in the plot. It’s always good when a film throws in a few misdirects to keep you busy as long as they make sense and have some kind of purpose. I do think this film pulled off the twist but it still couldn’t save itself from falling into a few holes.
The basic plot is that Lucy was away from home on a business trip. During her absence the husband decided to cheat on her with someone else. What he didn’t realize was that Lucy had caught the early train back home so she arrived in time to see this. The guy didn’t notice her arrival until it was too late and she managed to destroy both of them. She was sent away for 30 years but now she is back and hoping to live a normal life once more. Her daughter, Carol, wants everything to go back to how they once were, but is that even possible?
There are a bunch of other characters wandering around and are ready to muddle the plot as well. This includes the fiance to the daughter who just so happens to be rich and his parents. They don’t want the main two to get married and are ready to stop this relationship in its tracks. Then you’ve got the nice maid who helps out around the house and a mean Gardner who makes it clear that he doesn’t take orders from anyone. People start to get axed just like how the mother got rid of the competition. Has Lucy descended into madness or is someone setting her up?
Now, how well the twist works may depend on how you feel about the mother’s opening scene. After all, she was betrayed and so she fought back. The context is a whole lot different than most other murderers in these kinds of films. She was never actually crazy and just wasn’t gonna let the guy get away with it. It will probably feel very far fetched to see her going back to getting anyone else. Of course, as a horror film that is always a possibility. Meanwhile you will be suspecting someone from the main cast. I’d say that there are only 3 reasonable suspects among them but I’ll stop there.
Unfortunately the film does make the big mistake of throwing in animal violence. See, the main character’s own a farm and they believe in caging their chickens. Naturally we also have to see them chop one and the whole thing is pretty bad. Cutting out that scene/pointless subplot would have really gone a long way. I suppose that all of this does help to tip you off to the fact that something definitely isn’t right here.
The final action scene is definitely pretty intense though as the villain has a cool design. The whole thing is basically perfect even if it’s a little plot convenient. Getting into the house is way too easy for all parties involved. I get that this was back in the old days where everyone was a friend, but just leaving your door open throughout the night is asking for trouble. In particular you will feel bad for the father who just wanted to drink his milk. Sure, the guy probably should have gotten a little more involved with the marriage situation but at least he wasn’t actively opposed to it. He should have been less of a target than the wife. Of course, if you’re planning on bumping them both off then I suppose it makes sense to take him out first.
We’ve also got the corrupt butcher guy who was hired on for some reason. I never get why the main characters hire some super shady guy and then put up with how he acts throughout. They are the ones with the power here, just fire the guy and be done with it. Instead he throws around some threats and the main characters basically just have to shake in their boots. The fiance character wasn’t much better honestly. That’s because he is treated like a normal main character and yet he comes very close to cheating on Carol which is what Lucy was afraid of. The guy has no self control at all.
While the film does perform some of the plot twists pretty well, there are also some obnoxious red herrings that don’t need to be here. The first of which is certainly the scene with Lucy trying to act younger. The music takes her over and suddenly she becomes a huge flirt who can’t control herself. That’s a very big 180. Couldn’t she have dressed younger while staying mature? It defeats the whole purpose of getting a second chance at youth if you also lose the knowledge of being older along with it. This plot never really plays into the film in a realistic way. At times she just acts a little too crazy…so maybe Lucy always was insane.
Then we have the psych guy show up to basically tell Lucy that she’s crazy and has got to go. He’s not the smartest guy for a plethora of reasons. One of which is that he should have his guard up since he is dealing with someone who has murdered in the past. Even if the rehabilitation is complete you’d think that he would at least be prepared for anything right? Well, that’s not the case here and it certainly ended up coming back to haunt him. Then we’ve got the brother Bill who doesn’t really get much of a role here. He’s mostly just around as a sound board for the other characters.
Overall, Strait Jacket is a pretty interesting thriller. It makes it share of mistakes so I won’t call it a good film, but I will say that it does put in an effort. The film at least goes through the motions of forcing you to think a little. I also did like the ending with how happy it got all of a sudden compared to the sad scene that had just played. It’s time to try to make things all right again and it’s good that the character isn’t going to take the situation too hard. Who knows, with a few years of patience and talking maybe they’ll all get their happily ever after. In the mean time I would recommend getting some tickets for the Broly film coming out this year (In Japan) if you want a spooky, but epic film. That one’s going to be intense!