We all need to put a little bit of spice back in our lives…
While it leans into some expected tropes of the genre during a slow start, Jakob’s Wife ends up being a fun jaunt into the decadent and the macabre…
Anne (Barbara Crampton) is married to a small town minister (Larry Fessenden) but feels like her life and her marriage have been shrinking away from her over the past 30 years. After a chance encounter with “The Master” she discovers bite marks on her neck and has a new found appetite to live bigger and bolder then she ever has before. As Anne is torn between her enticing new existence and her old life, the body count around town is growing higher and Jakob realizes that he’s going to have to take on the fight of his life for his wife that he’s taken for granted all these years.
This bent slice of small town life certainly leans on the some of the familiar macabre tropes that we’ve all become accustom to in the vampire genre, but Jakob’s Wife manages to have a little bit of a wink and smile going for it while it does it.
Co-Writer/Director Travis Stevens is certainly no stranger to the horror genre and walks us through the narrative with skilled aplomb. Where this film differs from others in the vampire canon is that it’s actually trying to have a little fun with the over the top nature of seeing a vampire in the first place. Stevens doesn’t skimp on the blood but he also plays into some of the common beats of the genre that allows the gore and the violence to actually have a little bit of whimsy to it all. He shoots it all note perfectly and with an truly gonzo music score from composer Tara Busch that fits it all to a tee and in concert with some fantastic performances from our leads we get roped into the uncomfortable world of vampires introducing themselves into a small town. It all makes for a story that really is giving some very obvious nods to horror’s past while giving us something with an unexpected feminist bent as everyone of our female protagonists has aspirations for something more then what is in front of them in small town America.
Barbara Crampton is even more of an icon after her turn here in Jakob’s Wife going from small town pastor’s wife bored with her life to vampire on the prowl. She totally understands the tone of the material and embraces it full fold for terror in the moment and laughs on the side as she deals with her husband’s religious tendencies. Like she always does Barbara commands every single frame of this movie that she is in.
Larry Fessenden was a perfect choice to play the straight man opposite her as we’re so used to seeing him as a wild man of the horror genre, to have him playing the priest in the fight against the evil of the vampires is satire in and of itself. He gives the straight man role in this film an almost ‘Barney Fife” esque earnestness to it all.
Wrapping the issues of marital malaise in a small town package actually makes a whole lot of sense and keeps the supernatural elements of the story that much more grounded and realistic from minute one. Horror has always been a genre that allows for a certain degree of freedom inside the grander form of it all and as much as the film does takes itself seriously when it needs to; it’s more and more of a farce then anything….which is why it’s pretty fun.
The couple of a priest and a vampire trying to save their small town from the influence of “The Master” should be a romp and a good comparison would be Jim Jarmusch’s recent The Dead Don’t Die where you’re taking everything that happens 100% seriously but it still has an underpinning of deadpan humor that fits it all exceptionally well.
Devotees to co-writer/director Travis Stevens will recognize players like Phil Brooks (aka CM Punk) in the film but this is really carried from top to bottom by Crampton and Fessenden as a tale of domestic uncertainty wrapped up in a vampire tale.
The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are obviously first rate and the special features include a fairly short ‘making of’ Jakob’s Wife and some deleted scenes.
Ultimately with its genre pushing tropes of middle aged rom-com, feminist empowerment and small town vampire gore fest, Jakob’s Wife probably won’t work for everyone, but if you come at it eyes open and understanding the ride that you’re going on, than it’s a hell of a lot of fun.