Jakob's Wife (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Jakob's Wife (2021) Review

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on April 21st, 2021 | Movie Review | Vampire, Psychological

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When a minister’s wife is bitten by a vampire, she learns that her new transformation might have been just what she was missing.

Jakob’s Wife was directed by Travis Stevens (known for Girl on the Third Floor) and stars Barbara Crampton (from Re-Animator, We Are Still Here), Larry Fessenden (from Session 9 and Carnage Park),  Bonnie Aarons (from The Nun), Sarah Lind (from WolfCop) and Mark Kelly.

Some marriages are truly blessed

Jakobs Wife Review

The debut of Jakob’s Wife has been hotly anticipated; in a year lacking in horror, we have horror vets Barbara Crampton and Larry Fassenden starring in a vampire movie that was co-written by Travis Stevens, Kathy Charles and Mark Steensland, and it marks Stevens’s second film as director (and his second film working with Crampton, as he was a producer for We Are Still Here.) Like Stevens’s directorial debut, Girl on the Third Floor, toxic male traits are a focal point, but Jakob’s Wife is always about a floundering woman coming into her own and embracing her feminine power.

A minister’s wife, Anne (Crampton), lives in the shadow of her husband Jakob (Fassenden). He’s never outright abusive, but he often talks over her, has expectations of her keeping up their home and cooking his meals, and she serves more as a decorative piece to show his flock that he’s a good married man than she is an actual partner. You can see in her face her disdain for her husband, and for herself, in how she’s sunk into a role she never wanted.

When Anne meets up with an old flame to conduct a business deal, she’s reminded of the woman she used to be before she lost herself in the notion of being a “good wife”. When the two go to the job site, an abandoned gin mill, she is bitten by a dark figure called The Master, who starts to show her how to live deliciously, so to speak.

Once she’s bitten, she finds that the only thing she has a hunger for is blood, and the more she drinks, the more confident, strong, and assertive she becomes. Instead of a coming-of-age slayer tale, it’s a shift in perspective to a middle-aged woman reclaiming her life through metamorphosis. The need to obey her husband falls by the wayside, and she becomes entranced by acquiring more of what is making her feel the best she’s ever felt. Jakob’s journey begins with rejection and eventually arrives at unwelcome acceptance of his wife’s new state, and the two of them attempt to put a stop to the monster; but is it truly a monster if it gives you what you desire? 

The first act has a distinctly different vibe from the second and third acts; it’s genuinely creepy, and the impressive score is perfectly executed to ramp up the tension. Once Anne is having fun as a vampire, it’s less tense and more fun watching her transformation, including an unforgettable dance scene. In all of the acts, there are callbacks to the vampire films that came before it, from Nosferatu to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even a comedic special appearance from Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I forgot how much Stevens likes to let things get grossly wet, but the first vampire bite was quite the reminder. Instead of the usual trickling of blood from a vampire’s feast, it was more true to form if someone came up and hacked up your jugular vein. Not for the squeamish. As for the vampires themselves, the limited use of computer graphics took away from the truly horrifying and impressive practical effects. The vampires were a modern version of the monster, while The Master had more of a classic look meant to haunt your nightmares.

Fassenden was believable as a pastor struggling to accept his wife’s newfound independence, but Crampton was always meant to be the star of the show, and she shines. If she wasn’t already a beloved horror veteran, this would have been a breakout performance. I’ve never seen her in a role like this, but it was as if she was meant to play this character. Her evolution from passive church mouse to sexually liberated woman taking the reins of her own life was something to behold - though it would have been more effective had the dialogue featured less about her transformation, because the many explanations weren’t necessary. Just when you think the two have found a common ground of understanding, we are reminded that who we all truly are, at our core, is what shows up in times of crisis.

Worth Watching?

Jakob’s Wife had all the right elements for a vampire flick: it was sexy, bloody, scary, and fun. Worth a watch.

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