Jakob’s Wife tells the story of Anne (Barbara Crampton), the titular wife of small-town minister Jakob (Larry Fessenden). She feels suffocated in her role as a spouse, with her life slipping away from her after 30 years of marriage, but a chance encounter with “The Master” alters that, giving her a new lease of life. However, these changes come at a terrible price and the couple must fight to protect both their marriage and their community.
This film plays heavily in the space between horror and comedy, shifting tones to create a consistently entertaining but unsettling cinematic landscape. It’s a very deliberately corny piece, with cartoonish gore and scares that lean heavily into the slapstick, but this is balanced by the strong narrative core and effective character work that help the film avoid tipping over into the ridiculous.
The story at the heart of the picture is a fairly simple one – vampires as a symbol for sexual liberation is something that has definitely been done before, as has the critique of misogynistic and judgemental small-town society – but it works well, with the straightforward story helping to facilitate the feature’s seamless shifts between comedy and horror, as well as aiding in the delivery of its messages about sexism.
As the title suggests, the relationship between Jakob and Anne is an essential part of the narrative, and Crampton and Fessenden deliver fantastic performances as the couple. Anne experiences various physical and mental transformations, from repressed “church mouse”, to confident vampire, to frustrated wife. The talented actress more than rises to the challenge with her complex and multi-faceted depictions. Fessenden plays off Crampton’s performance excellently too as the unlikeable but engaging husband, and this dynamic and compelling chemistry helps to hold the film together.
Jakob’s Wife is a fun time for horror buffs and comedy fans alike, with a perfect mix of schlocky shenanigans and genuine pathos. It’s not necessarily breaking any new ground, but it tells a fairly straightforward story confidently and effectively, with its tongue squarely in its cheek.
Jakob’s Wife is released digitally on demand on 19th August 2021.
Watch the trailer for Jakob’s Wife here: