Allow yourself a little cringe time in the opening act of “Jakob’s Wife,” a horror tale shot and set in quaint Canton, Mississippi.
Pay no heed to the fact that every “teen” you meet is up for the “thirtysomething” reboot. Don’t get too wrapped-up in the details of the “troubled marriage” between boorish, snoring, loud-eating and constantly-interrupting Pastor Jakob and his lovely, genteel but “had-enough of this” wife.
Just take note that Anne is played by horror veteran Barbara Crampton and Jakob is the always in-demand Larry Fessenden, and as the expression goes, “WAIT for it.”
Because when then vampire is biting and Anne can’t go out during the day, or even get her teeth whitened by UV light, you’re going to laugh. And Pastor Jakob, attentive to his flock and devoted to his wife, isn’t asking “Can this marriage be saved?” He’s hunting for the Holy Water and, his hammer and stakes of holly.
The key moment to me is when preacher stops worrying about missing members of his flock and has “the talk” with Anne, who is acting…differently. She’s still revolted by the violent, messy way he brushes his teeth, his table manners and such. But she’s taken to punching him in his sleep and he’s interrupted her for the last time.
“Let me FINISH my THOUGHT, G–dammit!”
Pasty, pristine Anne tells him “I feel more alive than I have in years.” But Jakob? He’s filling that Holy Water bottle because he has figured some things out. “Don’t get USED to it.”
The first two acts establish the failed dynamics of the marriage, Anne’s temptation, the arrival of “The Master” (Bonnie Aarons), the first victim (Nyisha Bell) and the situation that gives Anne a big secret to keep from her husband.
But the third act has gloriously icky makeup, over-the-top geysers of blood goofiness, down-and-dirty vampire trash talk laughs.
“I’m gonna TONGUE-f–k a hole in your neck until I puke blood!”
Pastor’s trying to save his wife and his marriage, and keep all this from the local sheriff (Jay DeVon Johnson) as he and Anne dispose of neighbors who’ve been bitten. A little girl watches them enter a house without knocking and threatens blackmail.
“Go inside,” the pastor coos.
“Tell me a SWEAR word, first!”
Crampton turned to the dark side of cinema with “Re-Animator,” and Fessenden’s been an indie darling whose horror turns (“Satan Hates You”) are his standout credits. Watching two pros throw themselves into a low-budget movie shot, on location, in BFE Mississippi isn’t just amusing, it’s inspiring.
Love what you do kids, and you’ll never get old, with or without the vampire’s kiss.
MPA Rating: unrated, graphic, gory violence, profanity, sex and brief nudity
Cast: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Nyisha Bell, Jay DeVon Johnson and Bonnie Aarons
Credits: Directed by Travis Stevens, script by Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland and Travis Stevens. An RLJE release.
Running time: 1:38