Jakob’s Wife is a so-so vampire comedy thriller that riffs on bloodsucking motifs, benefitting from the presence of scream queen and Re-Animator veteran Barbara Crampton – and OTT gore. Crampton plays a preacher’s wife: bored, lonely, hating the way her husband (Larry Fessenden) eats, she flirts with having an affair. However, when she is on the verge of succumbing to excitement, her potential lover is eaten by rats, while she’s bitten by The Master – a vampire overlord and rat wrangler played by Bonnie Aarons, aka the terrifying tramp behind the garages in Mulholland Drive.
Emboldened by being bitten, Crampton does the normal vampire stuff: craving blood, being able to move furniture around one-handed, and gorily ripping people’s heads in half. The husband finds himself drawn into the fray: jealous at his wife’s potential infidelity, he and some cheeky non-believers encounter another of the turned (Nyisha Bell), leading her back to his wife, who is having some problems of her own. A battle for a marriage and control over Crampton ensues, with plenty of blood and histrionic schlock.
Crampton has fun as an older woman reinvented via the Nosferatu-esque Master, but it all feels rather unsubtle; this battle of the genders and call for female empowerment rings hollow. Jakob’s Wife is an often effective B-movie that doesn’t fully commit to being horribly funny or funnily horrible. Fans of horror veterans Crampton, Fessenden and Aarons will lap up the tropes and familiar beats, but others might feel a little underwhelmed and – ludicrous shock-gory moments aside – rather under-scared. An on-the-nose soundtrack, some rather clunky dialogue and tonal cheesiness makes this would-be dark relationship satire rather fangless.
Dir: Travis Stevens (18, 98 mins)
Streaming on Shudder from Thurs 19 Aug
words KEIRON SELF
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