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Jakob's Wife (2021) - Movie Review

Jakob's Wife (2021) - Movie Review
8 10

PLOT: A Minister's wife finds herself lost and fending off regret as she struggles to find meaning in her dull existence. After being bitten by a vampire, her mood and outlook change for the better.

LOWDOWN: Jakob's Wife (WATCH IT HERE) is set in a small town where Anne (Barbara Crampton) lives a quaint existence as the loyal wife to the local Minster Jakob Fedder (Larry Fessenden). The details are scarce on their relationship's history except that Anne went through a rough time in her thirties, causing her and Jakob to grow close and eventually marry. The passion and magic are long gone when we meet them, with Anne stuck in an endless routine of being a bored housewife until she reconnects with her ex-boyfriend over some local business plans. After a passionate kiss followed by immediate regret, she gets bitten by a vampire. The old Anne is no more, and now she has an urge to take back control over her destiny and truly f*cking live again.

Anne is meek and a shell of her former self, one which we only hear about when she meets up with an old fling. A man she hopes will help out on a construction project to bring business and new life to her town. Oh, and this handsome guy is Tom Lowe, played by the great Robert Rusler. He awakens a sense of wonder that she hasn't felt in years, only to be nearly killed by a sleeping vampire. Jakob's Wife is about empowerment, and wisely uses her taste for blood and newly gained powers as a way for us to experience the passion that she has sorely missed. Barbara leans into every quirk with gusto and embodies someone who feels more alive than ever, even though she's almost dead or close to it. Jakob's Wife is Barbara Crampton's Rocky, only with blood, guts, and a well-timed message.

Though the message has weight, I really dig into how strange and unique director Travis Stevens balances the tone. Jakob's Wife is part horror-drama and dark comedy, yet has an indie sense of humor that I wasn't expecting. It's that purposefully awkward humor that aims to be slightly uncomfortable and works great here. Stevens is wise to always keep Anne's transformation and her sense of purpose serious and grounded. But the world in which this Nosferatu-esq vampire exists is, well, out there. I also appreciate that Jakob isn't just a one-dimensional "f*ck men" trope which would have been a safe route to go down. Anne isn't his slave, and Jakob isn't by nature an evil dude. Their stale relationship has devolved into an old-school norm that Anne rightfully wants to change. He's far more layered and genuine, giving us a more complicated snapshot of a small-town religious marriage.

Horror works best when we know very little, and Jakob's Wife can get slightly creepy when the head vampire, known as "The Master" (Bonnie Aarons), stays in the shadows and controls Anne from afar. There's a masturbation scene that is fun, ballsy, and played with the right amount of grounded humor that makes this movie work so damn well. On the flip side, "The Master" looks far cheaper than she should have and, when put under full light, deflates the tension and mystery built around her. Some other CGI effects stick out like a severed thumb, and it's here where the low-budget starts to show. It's not a deal-breaker, but a slightly bigger budget with a good polish here and there would have smoothed out a few of the rougher edges.

GORE: When this gets bloody, it does not shy away. I won't ruin it for you, but we get some tremendous over-the-top blood and gore.

BOTTOM LINE: Jakob's Wife puts Barbara Crampton front and center, where she has always belonged. Like Rocky, she goes the distance and doesn't disappoint. We get a story with a good message mixed with intriguing vampire lore and a bit of a dark wit throughout. Larry Fessenden is fantastic as Jakob and brings enough dry humor and heart to play off of Crampton. They make for a fun duo who should lead more films together. Jakob's Wife is a blood-soaked good time that gives Crampton the role of her career.

JAKOB'S WIFE is in select theaters, On Demand and digital, April 16th, 2021.

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