jakob's wife | travis stephens | kathy charles | mark steensland | barbara crampton | larry fessenden | bonnie aarons | vampire | vampires | monster | monsters | creature | creatures | creature feature | united states | nyisha bell | sarah lind | mark kelly | c.m. punk
Film: Jakob’s Wife
Director: Travis Stephens
Writer: Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland and Travis Stevens
Starring: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden and Bonnie Aarons
This was a movie that I heard some buzz about due to social media. I’m a fan of Barbara Crampton so this movie was on my radar with her starring in it. It helped even more when I saw the poster for the movie and seeing that she was co-starring alongside Larry Fessenden. I tried seeing this earlier in the year. It wasn’t available at that time so I am now as part of my Odyssey through the Ones with it hitting Shudder. The synopsis is Anne (Crampton); married to a small-town Minister, feels her life has been shrinking over the past 30 years. Encountering “The Master” (Bonnie Aarons) brings her a new sense of power and an appetite to live bolder. However, the change comes with a heavy body count.
We start this movie seeing a rat on the pavement outside of a church. The minister here is Pastor Jakob Fedder (Fessenden). His sermon is about honoring your wife, which in his case is Anne. Also in attendance are Jakob’s brother, Bob (Mark Kelly), and his wife Carol (Sarah Lind). After the sermon, we see how well Jakob and Anne know their congregation. They speak with Amelia Humphries (Nyisha Bell) and inquire about her mother who is not in attendance. She has relapsed into drinking and it bothers her daughter. Jakob offers to come over the next day to visit with her, which makes Amelia happy. She then starts the long walk home. She gets all the way to her house before she is attacked by someone or something.
The next day we get to know this couple a bit more. Anne is reserved. Jakob expects her to cook and clean for him. He also talks over her quite a bit. She relays to him that she is going to meet with a former flame of hers, Tom Low (Robert Rusler). He is an architect and it has been approved by the town to renovate a closed mill. Jakob doesn’t seem thrilled about the idea as he likes things to be simple and to stay the same. Through her meeting with Tom, we learn that she was more adventurous in her youth. She had big plans for her life. When her parents died, Jakob was there for her and they were married soon after.
Tom still has feelings for Anne. They kiss and she tells him that this cannot happen. He made his move while in the basement of the mill and they happen upon some crates. Tom opens one to find a few large rats. In the other he finds quite a bit more. He is attacked and killed. Something else comes up behind Anne.
This encounter changes her. She shows up late and Jakob was worried as he is making phone calls looking for her. She tells him she’s fine and goes to the bathroom to freak out. He continues to be nervous when he gets up the next morning and she’s not in bed. There is no breakfast and he doesn’t know what to do. Anne seems to have found her voice when he comes home that day and she is in a red sultry dress. She wants to go out. She doesn’t have an appetite for food and drink though. She thirsts for blood. Jakob doesn’t believe it at first, but soon realizes there is something darker going on and his wife is not the woman he is used to.
I feel like that expands the synopsis a bit more without going into spoilers. Where I want to start is that I like the basic premise here. We have a minister and his wife. I think that is interesting in making her become a vampire. Anne is repressed by her husband. She has lost herself and became his wife. It doesn’t help that he has a bigger personality in the beginning than she does. I think that Crampton is a perfect actress to take on the role. She is able to hide behind her husband, but has enough personality to bust out as her character grows.
It also helps the chemistry that Fessenden and Crampton have together. Recently I’ve seen the two of them in We Are Still Here and You’re Next, even though they don’t share scenes together in the latter movie. He is an underrated actor and they play so well off each other. There is also an interesting concept that develops here. Jakob is a man of God. He becomes our ‘vampire hunter’. What complicates this though is Anne is his wife. He wants to protect her out of love. This adds a level to the movie that I enjoy. Also, if you couldn’t tell, I think Fessenden does a good job as our male lead.
Then I want to go to the master vampire and lore with this. It is interesting that we are getting a Nosferatu style vampire. I personally love the look as it is monstrous. I like that the master sex-wise is ambiguous. We would assume male as that is just more common, but Aarons fits the role very well. Even more so, there could be a commentary that the master is a female. Regardless, Aarons does a solid job in this minor, but important role. She reminds of Tilda Swinton where the acting is so good since she can be a chameleon for the sexless playing of the role.
To move away from what I like, the lore is where I have some slight issues. Anne is in the sun a lot in this movie, but it doesn’t affect her. We do get an interesting scene where UV light burns her. That makes sense with her changing into a vampire. The issue I have is that sunlight is also UV rays. Part of this is explained by something later in the movie, but I think this is still inconsistent for me with the scene at the dentist.
For the last bit that I want to go into story-wise is the setting. It is a small town. Jakob never grew out of the mindset. Anne wanted to, but got stuck. This feels a lot like Salem’s Lot where a vampire attacks a place like this as it is easier to get away with. There is even a line that maybe this vampire targets towns like this with ‘dying’ mills. I think this makes a lot of sense and it is spooky to think of towns that died if something like this could be the cause. It actually makes me feel like the area I grew up in to be honest. It is still alive, but not by much.
Since I’ve covered a lot of the acting, I’ll go into the rest of the cast. I think that Bell does a solid job in establishing her character. We also see her as a vampire later which I liked. Lind and Kelly are solid. They make for an interesting interaction later in the movie. Rusler is solid in his small role along with Jay DeVon Johnson as Sheriff Mike Hess and an appearance by C.M. Punk as Deputy Colton. I would say the rest of the cast rounds this movie out for what was needed.
Then the last things I want to go into would be the effects, cinematography and soundtrack. I’d already said I like the look of the vampires. The blood is solid, but it does go a bit over the top at times if I’m honest. There seems to be a bit of CGI here that I noticed. This wasn’t enough to ruin anything for me. I do think that the cinematography is well done in hiding things so I will give credit to that. Finally I’d say the soundtrack was surprising. We get a feel of synth that you’d get in the 1980’s that I enjoyed. I was pleasantly surprised and it worked for me.
So then in conclusion here, I’m glad that I finally got to see this movie as I enjoyed it. I think we have an interesting premise here of taking Anne, who has lost herself in being the preacher’s wife and finding herself by becoming a monster. We get themes of perverting religion and vampires attacking a small town. The acting works well here. I’d say that the effects can be a bit over the top, but for the most part are good. The cinematography helps and the soundtrack fits the movie for what it needs. I’d say this is a good movie. My goal is to rewatch this by the end of the year for sure.
My Rating: 8 out of 10