There’s one thing Jackson wants to make clear: Despite its title, ”Skulls” is NOT a horror flick. ”It’s much more of a thriller,” he declares. ”And I don’t mean the kind with an ax-wielding maniac. I mean thriller along the lines of ‘The Firm.”’ Jackson has good reason to be emphatic. He’s already been there, done that in the 1998 critical stinker ”Urban Legend” — a cliché-packed teen horror flick that landed at the bottom of the genre heap.
”Skulls” follows Luke (Jackson) into the dark world of a secret society modeled after Yale’s Skull and Bones. When his best friend is found dead, Luke is torn between protecting the Skulls by keeping the details of the death secret, or putting his own life at risk if he betrays the brotherhood. The fraternal conundrum marks Jackson’s first starring role in a feature, so there’s added pressure on the 21-year-old. (After all, his ”Dawson’s Creek” costar James Van Der Beek set the bar high with last year’s success ”Varsity Blues.”)
”Perhaps I’m not up to the challenge,” Jackson says, ”but at least I got a crack at the bat.” Director Cohen (”Daylight”) is quick to squelch any skepticism about Jackson. ”He reminded me of a young Tom Hanks,” says the director. ”He may not be the most handsome actor out there, but you feel he’s innately good and wants to do the right thing.” BUZZ FACTOR: 2
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