By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
From producer/director Travis Stevens, the filmmaker behind several genre festival favorites, comes a “biting” dark satire that critiques some of the more archaic conventions of marriage. Horror legend Barbara Crampton stars as the titular character who finds herself trapped in a stale and stagnant marriage where she has lost sight of the joys of living and a true sense of self-worth. This is a film that is an absolutely fun and entertaining horror film that delivers blood-drenched laughs, but definitely takes the material serious enough to treat its protagonist as a valuable and relatable character.
Crampton stars as Anne Fedler, the bored and frustrated wife of a church pastor in a small town, who no longer feels content in a marriage that has lost its fire and passion. Larry Fessenden stars as Jakob, Anne’s husband and church pastor whose dedication to his church has alienated his wife and has put a major damper on their love life. Feeling unloved, under valued, and taken for granted, Anne decides to meet up with old flame Tom Low (Robert Rusler), hoping to experience what her marriage is sorely lackng. Things go way worse than anticipated, though, when Anne’s attempt at a romantic tryst ends with Tom getting killed and Anne getting changed into a vampire. As Anne undergoes this major conversion, she must decide if her old life is worth salvaging and Jakob must step up as a loving husband to defend himself, his marriage, and the life they once had.
Written and directed by Travis Stevens, who co-wrote with Kathy Charles and Mark Steensland, Jakob’s Wife gives its audience bloody vampire horror with a sharp and sly sense of humor. The movie may be a portrait of a struggling marriage on the break of divorce, but it is also a film that utilizes vampire tropes along with some statements on female empowerment to deliver some intelligent messages. Stevens and his writers never let things get too heavy, though, which keeps the movie thoroughly amusing and enjoyable.
Stevens, who has previously worked with both Crampton and Fessenden, knows their talents well and allows them to both shine brightly here. Crampton, especially, gets to transform from a subdued, demure wife to a red hot, sexy vampire badass. As Jakob, Larry Fessenden also gets to undergo a transformation from a conservative church pastor to a passionate husband and vampire hunter fighting to save his wife, life and marriage.
I must say that of all of the horror/genre films that I watched during this year’s SXSW, Jakob’s Wife was definitely the most fun and enjoyable one. It pleases me that both Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden still have much love and passion for horror and that they have continued to work and thrive within the milleui. It also makes me happy that filmaker Travis Stevens shares that passion for genre filmmaking and continues to work hard to give genre fans what they crave so dearly.