Directed by Travis Stevens [Other horror films: Girl on the Third Floor (2019)]
This isn’t the easiest review I’ve had to write in recent times. Jakob’s Wife is a pretty well-made film, and I definitely see what they were going for, but it wouldn’t be truthful if I said I enjoyed it. On the surface, this may well sound rather tepid as far as criticisms go, but now is a good time to get into the psychology of Jiggy, so hold onto your hats.
I don’t like giving movies negative reviews. Even movies I personally hate, such as The Greasy Strangler and 1408; I know they may have their fans, and I don’t like possibly pissing people off. It’s especially bad for lower-budget movies – when a movie doesn’t have all the resources a higher-budget movie does, and I give it a low rating, I sometimes feel, as ridiculous as this may sound, a bad person.
It’s not just low-budget films, though, that I find hard to sometimes review with 100% honesty – when I get requests to watch films from those who made a movie, or just film recommendations from other fans, a large part of me wants to make them happy and perhaps bend my feelings a bit in a more positive light, which plays a mild part here, because someone requested I watch Jakob’s Wife, with the idea I’d enjoy it, and I just hate to say it wasn’t accurate.
Honestly, it’s not always easy giving my opinions on movies, especially movies that I know so many people love that I personally just don’t. Jakob’s Wife is a minor example – while many reviews have been positive, it has a more lukewarm overall reception. There are other films, like Halloween Kills, that I sometimes feel I may have put kiddie gloves on before reviewing, for these same concerns.
All I can say, before I get into my review proper of Jakob’s Wife, is that I do my best to be perfectly honest about my feelings. It’s worth noting that I am just a single guy from northeast Indiana, and I certainly don’t think my views on films supersede anyone else’s. I didn’t care for Jakob’s Wife, and that’s the simple truth.
Well, perhaps not that simple. I certainly thought the finale was pretty solid, almost emotional in a way, though I also think the final freeze frame was sort of disappointing. Not the song that popped up, being “Church” by Kitten (a song that will soon find it’s way onto my iTunes), but just the idea that as close as Jakob and his wife had become over the events of the movie, it might all have been for naught.
Before the finale, though, I was struggling, and most annoyingly, I can’t exactly explain why. Certainly the movie is primarily a horror film with occasional smatters of comedy thrown in, but not much of the comedy is overly goofy, so I don’t know if I can really blame the comedic undertones of some scenes on my overall feelings of the movie.
Perhaps it’s the somewhat aimless sense I got from it. Certainly there’s a plot – a somewhat mousy woman (played beautifully by horror icon Barbara Crampton) gets turned into a vampire, and has to figure out her life from that point forward. There’s a story, but it’s not always engaging, and while a couple of elements stood out, I can’t say I was really into the movie until the final thirty minutes or so.
Certainly the cast isn’t to be blamed for this. Barbara Crampton (From Beyond, Re-Animator, and Castle Freak) did quite well, and Larry Fessenden (Habit, I Sell the Dead, and We Are Still Here), while not a particularly enjoyable character, had a great performance. Though a smaller role, I liked Jay DeVon Johnson, and while she doesn’t get time to shine until the end, Bonnie Aarons (The Nun) had some strong elements.
When it comes to the positives, I’m pretty much stuck with two things. For one, I loved the gore – when people got bitten by a vampire, it wasn’t a small bite, these people literally got their necks ripped open, splatters of blood following. It was beautiful.
Secondly, the design of the lead vampire (played by Bonnie Aarons) was highly reminiscent of Nosferatu’s Count Orlok, with a bald head, freakishly long fingers, and to add to the effect, long fingernails. It was a great traditional look, and I loved it (at least from afar – up close, it felt sort of silly).
Otherwise, though, I found that much of the movie dragged, and when I said it was a struggle to get through this, I mean that. I kept pausing due to disinterest, and rather unlike me, it took three days to fully sit through Jakob’s Wife. I just wasn’t engaged at all save for the finale, and I can’t really put a finger onto why that was.
I imagine part of it is just the nature of the story. I don’t mind vampire movies, as there are some great ones out there – look at Fright Night, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, and John Carpenter’s Vampires, not to mention personal favorites like The Night Flier and Heartstopper (the 1989 movie) – but in Jakob’s Wife’s case, I just didn’t care for much of the story.
Ultimately, while I know this film has gotten a decent amount of praise among the horror community, I honestly just didn’t like it. I don’t think it was a particularly poor movie, and it was certainly filmed beautifully, but I can’t really see myself giving this another chance anytime in the next 15 years, which is a bit of a shame, especially given my mild hopes when starting the film up.