By Tammy Ruggles
Jakob’s Wife is a horror movie that can’t decide what it wants to be. It’s about an older woman at a crossroads in her life, trapped in a loveless marriage with a neglectful husband. Don’t get me wrong. I really got into the drama of the story, especially in the beginning when Anne, played by Barbara Crampton, is struggling with who she is as a wife and as an individual. And I like the way the dynamics of her marriage to the pastor, played by Larry Fessenden, is portrayed. It seems like the audience will be in for an interesting time. And it is. The acting is great, the directing is fine (the director is Travis Stevens), and it’s exciting to see older characters take center stage, which isn’t usually the norm in a youth-driven entertainment culture. It’s the insertion of humor in this particular horror movie that threw me.
Actually, I don’t mind a little humor tossed in now and then, but it doesn’t work for me this time around, because I was so invested in the drama of the characters, and the horror that was unfolding, that the humor (which was done well by the way), is just off-putting. I wish it had been one or the other – strictly horror, or strictly horror comedy, but not both. It felt like the director pulled the rug out from under the audience. One example of a horror comedy film that works for me is Shaun of the Dead. For some reason you accept the diametrically opposed genre mashup, but you know what it is going in. And with Jakob’s Wife, it doesn’t seem to be clear enough, at least not as far as I was concerned. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is another obvious horror comedy.
On another note, I think the overall story loses some of its mystique when it begins to show TOO MUCH of the vampire aspect. I think the director should have stayed with his initial treatment, which was to keep it mysterious and intriguing, or at least underplayed. Once the lid was off, it felt a bit awkward and overblown in places, especially when the bits of humor were sifted in. I liked the first part of the film, up to where the sheriff came to the door, but the movie lost its shine, at least for me, from there. I wanted to settle back into it, tried to keep an open mind, but it was too late. I was disappointed because the movie is ambitious, and horror fans crave well-made films. We’ll even forgive a misstep or two, but this may have crossed the line. This may actually appeal to younger audiences, or hardcore horror fans who love comedy mixed in. I was hoping this was a keeper, but in the end, I couldn’t stay on board. I got on the train with confidence and intense interest, but jumped off due to the film’s identity crisis. Maybe you agree with me, and maybe you don’t. Maybe I missed something and should watch again.