I don’t know why I expected Jakob’s Wife to be anything less than enjoyable. Here’s a film starring two old pros – Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden – beautifully wrapped in an eighties throwback blanket, coupled with a nice little message to boot. What’s not to like?
Because Jakob’s Wife (and Jakob’s wife) does have something to say.
Anne (Crampton) is married to Jakob (Fessenden), a minister who very much takes his wife for granted. He’s not a bad guy, doesn’t mistreat his wife, but the two of them are very much stuck in a marital rut. Anne does her part to be what one would expect from a small-town minister’s wife – stays in shape and looks her best, involved in the community. And the latter is what one day changes it all: During a survey of a deprecated building, she is attacked by an unknown creature. With a two-teeth bite on the neck, you likely know what happened. And undead as she may have become, Anne is also injected with a new sense of life.
There’s an eighties joie de vivre to Jakob’s Wife that I quite enjoy. Sure, the themes of an aging woman breaking free (Crampton is in her sixties, even though she looks twenty years younger) have their dramatic sides, but this is a movie that is not afraid to also have fun with them. Fessenden’s demeanor as he learns what likely has happened to his wife is effortless, and Crampton’s performance echoes the silent-movie horrors, adding a fitting layer of campiness. Jakob’s Wife doesn’t take itself seriously, which somewhat paradoxically delivers the topics with a stronger punch.
It is a nicely shot film, too. The colors reflect the tonal changes, and Anne’s increasingly colorful – and murderous – personality shows in her wardrobe. The significance of the color red will likely not be lost on anyone.
Granted, a limited budget does rear its head now and again, and The Master – the creature responsible for the whole hoopla – looks… less than convincing. (Although Bonnie Aarons does a good job portraying it. (Remember her as the creature in Mulholland Drive?))
It’s a small movie with a good message, Jakob’s Wife. Well executed; always entertaining. For those who enjoy the undead sub-genre, it is a movie well worth watching.
Letterboxd summary: Anne is married to a small-town Minister and feels her life and marriage have been shrinking over the past 30 years. After a brutal and bloody encounter with "The Master", she discovers a new sense of power and an appetite to live bigger and bolder than before. However, these changes come with a heavy body count and a toll on her marriage.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||4/6|