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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Review: Jakob's Wife

Director: Travis Stevens

Screenplay: Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland, and Travis Stevens

Year: 2021

Vampires are usually associated with bats, as with the iconic Dracula. If we go back in film history, specifically to 1922, another iconic vampire, Nosferatu, landed on German screens, but in this case, it was not bats, but rats that were associated with the vampire. In this case, the vampire and the rats were representing the epidemic known as the “Spanish Flu”, which killed thousands of people between 1918 and 1920. Now in 2021, as we are still living a pandemic, it is curious to have released a movie with a Nosferatu-style vampire and where rats are given so much importance.

Anne has been reduced to just being Jakob’s wife. Obedient and submissive, Anne lives behind her husband’s shadow, who doesn’t seem to care much about her wife’s needs and who doesn’t allow her to even express herself without interrupting her. Jakob and Anne’s marriage is put to the test when Anne is bitten by a vampire and she undergoes a transformation not only towards becoming one of these night creatures but to a more confident and independent personality.

Rats are usually associated with decay, filth, and disease, which serves as a symbol of the actual state of Anne and Jakob’s (Larry Fessenden; “Southbound”, “Dementer”) marriage. Anne not only feels undervalued by her husband, but she also has to put up with plenty of stuff she doesn’t like because she doesn’t have the bravery to bring it up to him. It is not until a vampire infects her being that Anne gets the gallantry to make a drastic change in her life, like changing her hairstyle, getting out of the routine’s monotony, and speak out about what she doesn’t like. However, everything has a price, and some things are paid in blood.

The bulk of “Jakob’s Wife” follows Anne, incredibly interpreted by horror legend Barbara Crampton (“Re-Animator”, “Stay Out Stay Alive”, “Reborn”), and her transformation into a vampire, who is the focal point of the movie. The rest of the cast does an excellent job, which also points out the good work of the director Travis Stevens (“Girl on the Third Floor”), but it is Crampton who shines in this aspect. It is also worth mentioning that Stevens again has the services of Phil Brooks, better known as C.M. Punk, who was the protagonist of his debut full-length feature, but in a secondary role this time around. As a curious fact, this is the second movie this year that has as an essential part of its plot a woman being attacked by a vampire and her transformation towards becoming one of these creatures, the first one being “Ten Minutes To Midnight”, also starred by a horror legend.

As a vampire movie, blood and violence are basic requisites, and “Jakob’s Wife” widely delivers in this field. When blood shows up, it does so in gushes, and the violence is not shy at all, with several surprising scenes of explicit gore. The practical effects employed to achieve this and other visuals, as well as the makeup, are first-class and look great in every scene.

“Jakob’s Wife” not only focuses on Anne’s vampire transformation but also explores a marriage that has lost its charm and in which the woman has been relegated to a secondary plane; obedient and submissive, reduced to only serving her husband. A vampire’s bite causes a drastic physical and perspective change in Anne, which we can enjoy through the different situations and excellent practical effects. As what happens with several vampire movies, as with “Nosferatu” itself, “Jakob’s Wife” has a much deeper meaning than a simple bite, and it is much in tune with the actual times, as the German classic was in its own.

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