Directed by: Travis Stevens
Premise: A minister’s wife (Barbara Crampton) develops a thirst for blood after an encounter with a vampire. She rediscovers a lust for life that is at odds with her traditional marriage.
What Works: Jakob’s Wife is fundamentally about a couple facing a crisis in their marriage. Barbara Crampton plays Anne, the wife of a Christian preacher who is unhappy with her life until vampirism breaks the logjam. The film’s portrait of middle-aged malaise is quite credible and many of the domestic scenes play as straight drama. While marital problems are a familiar topic at the movies, Jakob’s Wife presents them with some nuance. Anne wants to live a fulfilling life but she’s also committed to her husband and their marriage. Vampirism doesn’t automatically fix this; it pushes the existing conflict to a crisis point. Anne and Jakob have to make choices that will either destroy their marriage and each other or allow them to live together in a new way. This is a smart portrait of marriage and the performances by Larry Fessenden and especially by Barbara Crampton are quite good. One of the film’s strongest assets is its comedy. Jakob’s Wife possesses an absurd and mordant sense of humor that Fessenden and Crampton make work. The final scene of Jakob’s Wife is perfect for this movie. It brings the vampire horror, the domestic drama, and the dark comedy altogether in an appropriately ambiguous conclusion.
What Doesn’t: The weakest aspect of Jakob’s Wife are its more traditional vampire elements. Anne is turned into a bloodsucker by a mysterious figure referred to as The Master. This creature reappears throughout the story as a familiar nosferatu-like figure. The Master subplot plays well enough to be serviceable and pull together the various story pieces but it isn’t as interesting as the domestic story of Anne and Jakob’s marriage.
DVD extras: Featurette and deleted scenes.
Bottom Line: Jakob’s Wife brings a fresh angle to the vampire story. The film is at its strongest when it plays for domestic drama and dark comedy. This is likely to become a favorite among cult audiences and vampire fans.
Episode: #874 (October 24, 2021)