South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival – Subservient church mouse wife Anne (Barbara Crampton) has spent the last 30 years losing herself. Her husband, Pastor Jakob (Larry Fessenden) is as old school as they get – believing women have a place in the home, that no one should take the lord’s name in vain, that sins of the flesh are… well… sinful. Anne used to be a party girl, loved boys and sex and fun. She’s felt her life shrink away beneath her for decades. But when she meets up with an old beau, more than just that old flame is awakened inside of her, and the life force she encounters on that night will change the course of her life, Jakob’s life, and their marriage forever.
Not your typical vampire movie, Jakob’s Wife unapologetically bucks conventions regarding young, sexy vampires and allows middle aged Anne to be sexy, alluring, and erotic. Showing off more skin and more sexuality than most women her age is not played as a trick or a shock, just as a natural part of her femininity. It’s about time. She’s vibrant, and beautiful, and endlessly sexual, even in the smallest of gestures. It’s a fun juxtaposition to stuffy Pastor Jakob, who never unbuttons the top button of his shirt and refuses to acknowledge so much as the birds and the bees. It’s almost excruciating to watch their painfully dull marriage play out, her the “Jezebel” and him… well. I’ve seen paint drying that was more interesting. Perfectly played by both actors, with depth and a lot of fun had by all.
Living bolder is the theme of Jakob’s Wife. Breaking old conventions, opening up to new experiences. Living deliciously, if you get my drift. Crampton eats up the scenery… and some of her neighbors… as Anne, delightfully and joyously owning her divine feminine power and causing her husband apoplexy. This is, mostly, a story of the reinvigoration of a marriage. The horror based subplot is just a fun little bow on top.
Jakob’s Wife has the makings of an incredibly fun television sitcom, and I wish someone would snatch up that opportunity (though, now I’ve said it and put it on the internet, so coming soon…). None of the fun would be as fun without Crampton and Fessenden, and their chemistry (in spite of themselves). They’re perfectly delicious and so charming together. Imagine a sitcom where he’s trying to maintain his normal godly life and he comes home to the carnage of his vampire bride? Perfect, and perfectly wicked.
A special shout out as always to the remarkable Bonnie Aarons. Without spoiling anything, you will be thrilled to see her, and her iconic striking features. I personally adore her pivot into horror work and am always delighted to see her in a feature, but this is a particularly fun romp and she eats it up (no pun intended).
Jakob’s Wife is a charming reminder to live deliciously, serve no masters, and really love who you are. Anne’s journey to self discovery and self love is one that I hope we can all relate to – maybe with fewer blood baths along the way (But who’s to say?).
Jakob’s Wife reviewed as part of our South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival coverage.
8 out of 10