Anne Fedder (Barbara Crampton) has a life that is lacking. She lives in a small town where not much happens. She is married to the town pastor, but their relationship is waning after many years together. Her days are generally quiet and uneventful, which is a change from her younger years when she led a colourful life and had a reputation as a fun-seeker.
To a large extent Anne suppresses her innermost feelings and remains dutiful, but when she is required to meet with an old flame over a business deal, it drags up memories and reignites emotions. And as she approaches a critical point in their encounter something entirely unexpected happens – she is attacked by a vampire.
Fortunately for Anne, she’s one of the luckier ones – getting turned into a vampire rather than just ending up as a meal. But on returning home and trying to conceal evidence of the nights events from her husband Jakob (Larry Fessenden) she realises that things are about to change irreversibly, and she can barely recognise the woman she sees in the mirror.
As Anne undergoes a metamorphosis she becomes passionate, energised and powerful. She feels fantastic, but Jakob is intimidated. Soon the added strain on their relationship, in addition to Anne’s hunger for blood, sensitivity to sunlight and uncontrollable attraction to the ‘Master’ (the vampire that turned her) makes it seem like the Anne of old will soon be gone, along with their marriage.
It’s down to Anne to decide whether she is willing to pursue the path of evil or find some way to recover some part of what she had but retain her new sense of self-worth.
Jakob’s Wife is an interesting film. In the same way that it treads a line between classic horror and black comedy, it also offers more than your usual story in terms of the characters roles.
Though the name of the film would suggest that Jakob is the central character, we soon learn that the only person in charge of Anne’s destiny is Anne. So the story is as much about feminism as it is about two people trying to overcome challenges to stay together. And the ancient, Nosferatu-esque head vampire is the perfect juxtaposition for a film that is pushing a refreshing agenda in horror – the genre that has arguably been slowest to catch-up with the equal representation of women.
Serious sub contexts aside, Jakob’s Wife is an enjoyable vampire movie, which will please most horror fans.
Barbara Crampton delivers a very strong performance as the lead character and shows that her years of experience have led her to become a credible acting force, a long way from her humble beginnings in eighties films such as From Beyond and Chopping Mall where it very much felt like she was chosen primarily for her looks.
You can see the sincerity in her more recent roles, including We Are Still Here (where she also plays an Anne, and also alongside Fessenden), but this time round she plays to all her strengths – solemnity in times of stress, dry wit when delivering comedy and sexuality is scenes of passion.
Larry Fessenden does equally well at juggling this tricky set of acting demands and the pair manage to portray a very convincing chemistry and partnership in the face of adversity.
Jakob’s Wife is a vampire movie with a difference, which plays on familiar themes and even characters and draws on the nostalgia of horror from the past. At the same time it is refreshing and manages to deliver unexpected twists and give the audience things to ponder after it ends.