Barbara Crampton is one of the classic scream queens of the ‘80s: she was in Re-Animator and From Beyond (Stuart Gordon, 1985 and 1986), amongst others. She also spent a long time on the soap The Young and the Restless, appearing from 1987 to 2007, and on The Bold and the Beautiful for ages as well. In more recent years Crampton has gone back to her horror-film roots, acting in several films, working as a producer, and currently writing a monthly column in Fangoria.
In Jakob’s Wife, Crampton is a vampire experiencing a mid-life crisis. Ann is married to a small-town minister, Jakob (Larry Fessenden). She feels her life shrinking away, and by chance… becomes a vampire. The film is about the couple trying to stay together as dark forces try to pull apart their decades-long relationship. Ann meets an old friend, and something entirely unexpected happens. More twists follow. Monstrous rats (!!!) also play a very peculiar role.
Crampton was no doubt attracted by her meaty role (pun intended). It’s one of her best performances. There is some really funny gore in a Sam Raimi/early Peter Jackson vein, but tonally it’s a bit confused. Nonetheless, Jakob’s Wife is entertaining, and silly for the sake of it. Crampton and Fessenden have worked together before, so they have a natural chemistry. It’s a film that picks up as it goes along, after a somewhat weak start.
This little odd movie is pretty fun, and it probably should have had a bit more of a release, which was denied due to Covid. It’s nice to see a horror film about older people instead of just teenagers, plus it has a nice ‘80s-throwback vibe, and good gore. It’s a big step up for the director of Girl on the Third Floor, which like most films that try to be Lovecraftian, didn’t quite make it. In fact, I’d say Jakob’s Wife was definitely one of the better horror films of 2021.
As usual with Shudder releases in the UK, it’s mostly a port of the US disc at a nice price. The extras include a short making-of featurette and a little over 13 minutes of deleted scenes.
This is a modified version of my review for the SXSW premiere which was originally published on DMovies.