NEW TO SHUDDER! Loving both Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden, I was sure that Jakob’s Wife would be enjoyable just based on their appearances. Of course, I was right, but there’s more to it than that. The film is a monster movie of sorts, but the film’s real bad guy is misogyny.
Barbara Crampton plays Anne Fedder, wife of Jakob Fedder (Larry Fessenden). A couple that I would’ve never possibly imagined until now that it’s been presented to me. Anyway, Anne is having a bit of a crisis and is starting to question her entire life, including her marriage to Jakob. He constantly interrupts her in group conversations and is often the star of the show, seeing as he is the town’s pastor. Anne has been a “churchmouse” for over thirty years and is growing tired of living in the shadow of Jakob. She decides to meet up with a guy she dated in high school, Tom Low (Robert Rusler), and after dinner, they go to an abandoned gin mill that will soon be turned into a retail and housing development. Tom is the one developing the property, and Anne helped the town agree to make it into a mixed-use development instead of tearing down the historic building.
While at the gin mill, things get a bit hot and heavy between Anne and Tom, which Anne feels terrible about and puts a stop to, but then an entirely different life-changing event occurs for Anne, leaving Tom in the dust. A mysterious figure called “The Master” is in the mill and instantly changes Anne’s life by turning her into a vampire. Unlike some people who are horrified by what happens to them once they become one of the undead, Anne likes how being a vampire makes her feel.
“A mysterious figure…changes Anne’s life by turning her into a vampire.”
It’s just too bad that a lot of a vampire’s lifestyle includes murder and tons of blood. Naturally, at first, Jakob thinks that Anne is going crazy, but when he discovers she isn’t, he tries to help her battle the Master so that she may return to “normal,” but Anne’s not sure if that’s what she wants. Naturally, the town Sherriff, Sherriff Hess (Jay Devon Johnson), starts to become suspicious of the couple, as well.
The practical blood and make-up effects are awesome, just like any good ol’ 1980s monster movie. Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden make a great team. I especially love Barbara Crampton’s performance as a woman trying to finally take agency over her own life. As the “mouse,” she is believable, but once she takes control of her life as an undead entity, her intensity and energy are unmatched. Fessenden is great as the slimy pastor you just love to hate.
While there are some serious themes at play, the movie still has plenty of gooey gory fun for horror fans. Director Travis Stevens did a great job making a believable world for the characters to play in and made something rare — a feminist vampire comedy. That is not something you see every day, and that uniqueness is in every frame. Believe me when I tell you that Jakob’s Wife is worth seeing.
Jakob’s Wife screened at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.
"…the practical blood and make-up effects are awesome..."