Friday, July 30, 2021

{The Midnight Horror} - Jakob's Wife (2021)

Why do I waste my time reading reviews written by the mainstream media? I rarely read other reviews before writing my own, but tonight I found myself reading a few for the vampire-flick Jakob's Wife. I usually don't care what a critic thinks of a horror film, but a specific Variety review from March ticked me off. The critic, who I won't name, stated Jakob's Wife is nothing more but "a cheap and cheerless vampire movie knock-off." Why does a vampire movie have to be cheerful? I take it this so-called critic has never watched a vampire movie? And, no, the Twilight Saga doesn't count. Cheap? It's a low-budget, B-grade horror film, enough said. A knock-off? Of what? Sure, the vampire looks a hell of a lot like Count Orlok from Nosferatu and Kurt Barlow from Salem's Lot, but I would never call it a knock-off. Good grief! Ever heard of a homage?!

(FYI: I'm aware Jakob's Wife has an 85% score on Rotten Tomatoes.)

Jakob's Wife is the second outing from director Travis Stevens, which he co-wrote with Kathy Charles and Mark Steensland. He also made 2019's Girl on the Third Floor (a film that's on my to-watch list). RLE Films and Shudder picked up the US distribution rights earlier this year. The movie premiered at the SXSW (South by Southwest) on March 17, 2021. It got released to theaters, digital, and on-demand a month later and landed on DVD and Blu-ray on July 20, 2021.

The horror legend Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Chopping Mall, Castle Freak) plays Anne Fedder, a bored preacher's wife, who reunites briefly with an old flame at what she thought was an abandoned building. Instead of a hookup, she's attacked by a female vampire (played by Bonnie Aarons), though she has no memory of the event. Shortly after returning home, she has an awakening. She dresses in clothes that are more appealing to her, her attitude changes, and she gets a taste for blood.

Jakob Fedder (played by Larry Fessenden) quickly notices that his wife is acting unusual. There has to be only one explanation - Anne is having an affair. After trying to catch her in the arms of another man, he learns his wife is a blood-craving vampire! Jakob is a man of faith, and his first instinct is to kill his wife, but his love for her prevents him from doing so. Instead, he decides to help feed her cravings and protect her from 'the master.'

Final Thoughts

Jakob's Wife is a smartly-written vampire tale with more heart than gore. Well, that's not exactly true. There's plenty of blood and gore. It starts a little slow, but the pacing picks up after the first half-hour. Barbara Crampton gives one of her best performances as an emotionally neglected wife who finds her true self after becoming a vampire. There's a dark satire here mixed in with a weird love story. It's far from being perfect, but I found it to be oddly entertaining.

Travis Steven's directing is solid. A few clever camera shots cover up the low budget. The makeup and visual effects are pretty decent. The creepy musical score by Tara Busch helps set up the film's dark tone.

Overall, I enjoyed watching Jakob's Wife. Sure, there are a few flaws here and there, but it's worth watching for Barbara Crampton's performance alone.

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