Jakob’s Wife (2021) ☆☆☆(3/4): The preacher’s bloody-thirsty wife

“Jakob’s Wife” is a little horror comedy film about an ordinary preacher’s wife who suddenly finds herself becoming blood-thirsty under a certain insidious evil influence. While it is not particularly scary as a horror movie, the movie still works as a black comedy peppered with some bloody moments as required, and it is also supported well by two effective lead performers who wisely play as straight as demanded by their film.

Barbara Crampton, a veteran actress who has been always remembered for that morbidly naughty moment in Stuart Gordon’s cheerfully gory horror film “Re-Animator” (1985), plays Anne Fedder, a middle-aged married woman who has lived her whole life in a little quiet rural American town. As the wife of the local pastor, Anne has dutifully stood by her husband Jakob (Larry Fessenden), and we see her and many other local residents sincerely listening to Jakob’s latest sermon, but we gradually come to gather that she has been rather suffocated for merely being a preacher’s wife. She still appreciates how her husband comforted her a lot during a certain period in the past, but she has felt the growing discontent with how her life has been going, and that feeling of hers is more amplified when an old flame of hers, who is a successful businessman now, drops by the town for his latest business matter.

That dude has been interested in renovating an old abandoned factory outside the town, so he later takes Anne to that factory in question, and, as spending more time alone with him in the factory, Anne cannot help but feel tempted about getting a bit closer to him. After all, he is already willing to seduce her, and whatever is going to happen between them will be kept only between them, as long as no one is around them for now.

However, it looks like they are not alone in the factory at all, when they suddenly hear some strange noise coming from somewhere inside the factory. Anne is understandably disturbed and scared, but then they soon find two very suspicious wooden boxes, and, to their shock and horror, these two boxes turn out to contain something quite malevolent.

After a couple of terrifying moments which her mind does not completely process yet, Anne manages to return to her house alone, but it does not take much time for her to sense that something serious is happening to her right now. For instance, she somehow does not feel that hungry enough to eat meals with her husband, but there is a certain urge she cannot understand that well, and then there comes a moment of revelation when she comes to realize how unspeakable that urge is.

While understandably horrified by her big changes including the inexplicable growth of new teeth in her mouth, Anne cannot help but feel excited and liberated as reflected by a literally swirling scene accompanied with an energetic pop song being played in the background. Even though she is still scared as feeling more of the presence of a certain insidious figure, she is also empowered by the evil influence from that figure, and, despite her remaining hesitation and repulsion, she may let herself fully embrace it in the end.

Of course, it does not take much time for Jakob to realize that something is going wrong with his wife. At first, he just thinks that he and his wife are just having a little marital problem, but then there eventually comes a point where he belatedly beholds the truth about his wife, and he reluctantly takes the role of her potential savior mainly because several necessary items including holy water can come handy to him.

As Jakob clumsily tries to solve his wife’s urgent problem, the screenplay by director Travis Stevens and his co-writers Kathy Charles and Mark Steensland continues to throw one naughty moment of horror and comedy after another. There is a little amusing scene where Jakob allows a bit of transgression between himself and his wife for not only suppressing her unspeakable thirst for a while but also having some honest conversation, and the mood later becomes cheerfully darker when they luckily come across someone who can help them a bit for a reason I will let you to discover for yourself for having a good laugh.

When that insidious figure in question finally comes to reveal itself in front of our unfortunate couple later in the story, the movie begins to stumble more than once in addition to losing some of its comic momentum, but Crampton and her co-star Larry Fesseden keep carrying the film via their good comic chemistry, and they are often quite funny as looking serious in many of their absurd moments in the movie. Crampton, who also participated in the production along with Stevens, surely handles those several bloody moments with gusto, and you may chuckle a bit as watching one particular moment which will take you back to that headless figure in “Re-Animator”. On the opposite, Fesseden dutifully holds the ground for his co-star, and he is hilarious especially when his character struggles to cope with a big domestic change to be dealt with in one way or another.

Although it ends the story a little too abruptly in my inconsequential opinion, “Jakob’s Wife” is still funny and entertaining enough for recommendation mainly thanks to Stevens’ good direction and the nice comic acting from Crampton and Fessenden. I wish it could push its premise harder with more blood and comedy, but the overall result is fairly enjoyable at least, so I will not grumble for now.

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