The Movie Waffler SXSW 2021 Review - JAKOB’S WIFE | The Movie Waffler

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SXSW 2021 Review - JAKOB’S WIFE

jakob's wife review
A pastor's wife develops a thirst for blood when she is bitten by a vampire.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Travis Stevens

Starring: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Bonnie Aarons, Sarah Lind, Mark Kelly

jakob's wife poster


A horror riff on the 1947 classic The Bishop's Wife, director Travis Stevens' Jakob's Wife casts genre icon Barbara Crampton in the role of the disillusioned spouse of a preacher. As with the '47 film, the intervention of a supernatural being causes the preacher to reevaluate how he's been treating his wife, who finds herself seduced by this other-worldy interloper. The twist here is that it's not an angel who has come between the preacher and his missus, but a vampire!

jakob's wife review

Once known as "Adventurous Anne", Anne Fedder (Crampton) has spent the past three decades playing the role of loyal preacher's wife to her inattentive husband, Pastor Jakob (Larry Fessenden). When an old high school flame, Tom (Robert Rusler), comes to town for a business meeting, Anne is reminded of the youthful dreams she gave up for the numbing comfort provided by her husband and the church. Giving in to her desires, Anne snogs Tom while exploring the old mill he's looking to redevelop. But their romantic reunion is disrupted when a Nosferatu lookalike swoops out of the shadows, biting Anne while a swarm of rats devours Tom.


Anne returns home to Jakob, but she's noticeably changed. Now a vampire herself, she's donning low cut Ingrid Pitt style gowns, drinking blood from the local bemused butcher's counter and eventually killing neighbours to keep her thirst quenched. When Jakob learns of his wife's transformation, he too is given a new lease of life, as this is just the sort of thing his role as spiritual soldier has been preparing him for.

jakob's wife review

Jakob's Wife has such a 1980s setup that it's surprising this storyline was never tackled during that horror-comedy heavy decade. Yet while this exact premise may be a first, it doesn't stop Jakob's Wife from feeling derivative and dated. The gags here are so old you'll be wiping dust off your screen by the film's climax, and the film can't find anything fresh to do with either the vampire mythos or its pseudo-feminist theme. It's just nowhere near as funny as it needs to be, and its tone is often confusing. I guess we're supposed to root for Crampton's vamp because she's finally exercising free will, but a lot of innocent people die here. Jakob is posited as a villain of sorts, but we're never given any real evidence that he's been holding his wife back – we're just asked to take the film's word for it (show us, don’t tell us!).

jakob's wife review

The only novel aspect of Jakob's Wife is in giving us a pair of lead characters well over the age of the average American movie protagonists. Unlike mainstream American cinema, the horror genre refuses to discard its stars just because they've reached a certain age. Now in her sixties (though she looks 20 years younger), Crampton is enjoying a second wind as a horror star, and Stevens films her as though she's some hot new starlet. You might argue that Jakob's Wife is objectifying Crampton, but isn't it refreshing that a woman in her sixties is portrayed as a sexual being?

Jakob's Wife
 played online at the SXSW Film Festival 2021.



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