Jakob’s Wife (2021) is a Sizzling Feminist Statement Made Through Vampiric Bite
Title: Jakob’s Wife
First Wide Release: April 16, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Travis Stevens
Writer: Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland, Travis Stevens
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Starring: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Bonnie Aarons
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Anne (Barbara Crampton) is married to small town pastor Jakob (Larry Fessenden) and feels stuck in life. Spoken over and disregarded, Anne suppresses the desire for something greater than the life she is living. Eventually, an old flame returns to town to work on a historical project in the town’s old mill where they discover the resting place of a vampire who has a mission to turn Anne into a bloodsucking creature of the night. Anne must make the choice between giving into her newfound lust for blood and returning to the godly path she had followed for all those years.
Jakob’s Wife is a competent horror comedy that blends humor and feminism into a mildly fresh take on vampirism.
What a peculiar and charming film. I am always excited to see a new take on the vampire sub-genre and Jakob’s Wife takes a unique approach to horror with middling results. Let me start by saying I am enamored by how convincing the vampires are in the film. Both effects for the vampiric transformations and the gore that follows is well-done and offers a few frights and laughs. Barbara Crampton gives a knockout performance here and Larry Fessenden complements her well. That being said, Jakob’s Wife offers up some interesting ideas that it doesn’t know what to do with exactly.
Anne is transformed by the desire to drink blood and is simultaneously awakened to what she truly wants out of life. She wants to be able to speak and make decisions for herself without being overshadowed by her husband Jakob. By itself this is a cool idea. Vampirism giving Anne this freedom to live out her life in a more free-spirited way, which she used to be before marrying Jakob, brings new life to the subgenre by flipping conventional desires on its head. I do wish Anne’s actual desires beyond wanting more freedom were explored as well. What did she want to do with it? Which dreams was she wanting to live out now? This could have been explored more beyond drinking blood in a wineglass in her living room.
The dialogue sometimes gets too on the nose. It’s almost like the writers don’t trust the audience to get what they were trying to say so they thought that making the antagonist give a hearty villainess monologue at the end was the best way to get that information across to us. Between religion, feminism, and family, Jakob’s Wifecovers plenty of deeper themes while delivering vampiric snark and bloody hijinks.
Some aspects of Jakob’s Wife as a horror comedy just don’t land for me. Some of the muddled direction shines through with the lack of steady momentum in the film. It may have something to do with its limited budget, but the action feels stagnant. Jakob’s Wife also regularly switches tones to the point of inducing tonal whiplash. I cannot ignore that horror comedies must walk that fragile line between its two genres, but it doesn’t work here. It’s a shame because Jakob’s Wife has a lot of potential with its interesting premise and chosen themes. Ultimately, it could have been pared down in the editing room to make a sharper and more concise narrative.
Overall, there isn’t anything wrong with Jakob’s Wife per se, it’s just very bland to me. The comedy falls flat to the point where I struggled to identify what is even supposed to be humorous. The moments that do elicit a reaction are too far and few between to justify the wait. I appreciate the different angle on vampirism and the transformation afterwards. Anne is an interesting character that, although underdeveloped, is fun to watch to see what decisions she will make. It doesn’t quite have the fangs necessary to make a big splash in the genre, but Jakob’s Wife is a fine watch for horror buffs looking for quality acting and sparse scares.
Overall Score? 5.5/10