Movie Review: Jacob

When it comes to reviewing a film made by and starring people I consider to be my friends, I have always been a little skeptical. What if I don’t like the film and my harsh, brutally honest review hurts their feelings? I just don’t think I can handle that kind of pressure. However, I am glad that I gave Jacob a chance and even though it isn’t perfect, there were many things about this film I enjoyed and it deserves praise. For instance, the cinematography is just beautiful thanks to Stacy Davidson. This original independent horror film brought to you by Texans had some gorgeous shots and clever camera angles along with a fine editing job.

Jacob opens with one of the best, nightmarish openings to a horror film I have seen in a while. I can already tell right away that I am about to watch a nifty little horror flick. Thanks to Iain Kelso for a brilliant score. I couldn’t get enough of the eerie, music box-like score that fit nicely with the atmosphere. However, the audio was a little off. I had to keep playing with the volume. That’s all on the sound department.

In the small, backwoods town of Melvin Falls, an unforeseeable evil effects the inhabitants and bloody carnage ensues. Jacob is your typical humungous, bald retard in overalls. Hey, it is what it is. He’s fiercely protective of his baby sister Sissy who seems to be the only one who can calm the big lad down. We go through flashbacks within flashbacks where we discover that Jacob’s father (played by Michael Biehn) had been corrupted by the unexplainable and carries on a bloody rampage. After taking several victims, in a glorious fashion, this rabid pup is finally put down. The voices obviously carried onto Jacob and it followed him into his 20s. The town douche, Otis, is now in the family picture as the drunk, abusive step father who also really needs to be put to sleep. One night, Otis has a little too much to drink and kills Sissy the following day instead of sleeping it off. This sets Jacob off and he begins ripping random civilians throats out before dropping Sissy’s body off at their father’s grave site and heading towards an inauspicious, deteriorating house that calls to him.

I wasn’t expecting the supernatural to be a part of the story and it was a nice touch but I wanted to know more about this unseeable evil and this so called book this crazy woman seems to know so much about. It makes me want to watch the film again to see if I may have missed something. On that note, the subtlety of the supernatural existence may have been better. If Carrell played this out too far it could have ruined the film.

All the mayhem doesn’t start until we get towards the end of the film. Carrell did a good job developing the characters and storyline and setting the stage for the final climax without managing to bore the viewers. The threads of madness slowly start to unravel and chaos explodes all over the screen limb-by-limb.

There are fantastic gore effects and killer death scenes once the film starts to pick up. Kristi Boul handled the special effects and she also handled a lot of the special effects for Sweatshop. She was accompanied by Gilbert Cortez and Mike Oliver. Some of these wicked awesome death scenes include sticking a shotgun through  a character’s stomach and lots of throat ripping with bones popping out nicely. There’s a nifty bar fight scene with a broken bottle stabbing to the face and an ax to the face. I really got to hand it to Boul. She is a brilliantly skilled craftswoman.

I have mixed feelings about the acting. There are plenty of familiar faces here but the more familiar for horror fans don’t have the bigger roles. Michael Biehn, a horror fan favorite, always pulls of his characters so well. His work in Terminator, Aliens, and Planet Terror was quite impressive and you can add Jacob to that list. His wife Jennifer Blanc-Biehn has a small role as a police officer. I had never seen her act before and her screen time was only a minute or so but I can tell she is comfortable on screen. James Hampton, the dad in Teen Wolf, had a cameo and it wasn’t my favorite performance but he did bring some comedic relief with his mom I think? Played by Karen Schlag. This old woman had me going. Her hackling reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Grace Powell has received a lot of praise for her performance as Sissy and for the majority of the film I thought she was really good and cute as a button but one scene in particular had me disagreeing with the rest of the public, slightly. There’s a scene where she discovers that Jacob has killed an animal and has blood all over his hands. She’s trying to be Bossy McGee and says, “Now I have to clean up this mess.” Or something to that effect. It just seemed a little forced but that’s really the only complaint I have for the young actress. I have high hopes that she will succeed and have several roles in the future.

Dylan Horne is not an actor I am too familiar with. I do believe he was the perfect choice for Jacob. It’s not like he has any lines or anything but sometimes, nonspeaking roles are the hardest to pull off. You have to have the right body language and expressions. Horne succeeded. The only complaint I have with his character is the young lad who played him as a boy. I was expecting more of an Adams Family Puggsly-like child since he is so enormous when he gets older.

I don’t understand why Krystyn Caldwell is getting negative reviews on her acting abilities. She is new at this and maybe she wasn’t as comfortable as she could have been on screen but I wouldn’t call it overacting like some are saying. I thought she was terrific as the sob queen. Maybe there were a couple of questionable scenes but overall, she delivered as the battered mother Edith. If anyone was overacting it was Leo D. Wheeler as Sheriff Andy. Like nails to a chalk board.  I’ve seen better acting from the snakes in Snakes on a Plane. Joe Grisaffi wasn’t too terribly bad as Max but I wasn’t really impressed. Sorry Joe.

Jeremy Norton, who I remember from Princess, is well on his way to becoming a favorite of mine. He plays Earl, Otis’s butt buddy. Parrish Randall is already a favorite of mine. Not only is he one of the most likable people in the industry, but he also knows what he is doing on screen and confidence just flows through the man. Kelly Byrns is also here! She’s stunning and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for her.

Danielle Jones steps in as officer Cindy and I have never been let down by this woman’s acting abilities. Okay well I have only seen her in this and Sweatshop but her performances in both were really really good. Especially, her performance in Sweatshop. This girl can scream and cry like nobodies business. Peyton Wetzel, also from Sweatshop, made an appearance and of course Roxy Vandiver was also present in a very small role on roller skates. Ah the good old days, serving food on roller skates.

Now that I’ve spent an hour discussing the cast of this film I will top it off with the performance by writer and director Larry Wade Carrell who plays both Otis and Billy. At first I couldn’t understand why he was playing two characters then I realized, oh they’re brothers! I think it made the film even more of a challenge to make because there are some scenes where both characters are on screen together and he crafted this perfectly. Except for a fight scene between the characters. The punches just weren’t convincing. I did feel like he fell short in a couple of scenes but overall impressed me enough to believe he should carry on with acting and expand his horizons. That being said, I thought his mustache was hilarious! It reminded me of the cop in Sleepaway Camp with the bad mustache. (Pictured below.)

True horror fans will notice the car from Stephen King’s Christine was present in the film. I thought it was a nice touch but couldn’t understand what was going on with Edith’s car. How does a single mother manage to afford such a nice vehicle and how in the world is that thing so spotless and clean when she drives around so much dirt? I guess I notice the silliest things. Truth be told, I know nothing about cars but it was a nice one.

The house is one of the most wonderfully creepy houses I have ever seen. I felt compelled to ask Larry Carrell about the location. According to him, every location in the film was real, including the house. The only thing that wasn’t was the interiors of Jacob’s house and shed. This was a sound stage. Larry contacting the Richmond Rosenberg Chamber of Commerce and local newspapers so that the community could get involved and even stand in as extras. The house I speak of was in a farmers cow pasture. Someone had it moved out in the middle of the country years ago and ran out of money so they could never finish it. The abandoned old house collapsed after they were done shooting.

Jacob is available on BluRay although I only watched the DVD so I don’t know what significant difference is in order but I can say you should give this Indie film a chance and buy your copy asap. Show it to your friends, your kids, and your grandma. With Halloween coming up, it’s the perfect family night horror film after the kids are done trick-r-treating. There isn’t much of bad language in the film and I don’t remember there being any nudity. Yes it does get a little graphic but come on, the kids will love it!

Random Thoughts:
That’s the craziest effing tea party I have ever seen. Obviously this child has issues and it’s not her fault.

Sissy makes her mother Edith some breakfast. I wish my daughter would make me breakfast.

Does Edith ever brush her daughter’s hair? I know she is busy but if she has the time to do her own hair…..

Jacob likes to kill pets in his spare time like most potential serial killers so often do.

Why are there rebel flags on their uniforms?

That woman needs a new set of teeth. Toothpaste anyone?

“Where in tarnation, did you get such a creation?” Nice rhyme. Who actually uses the word tarnation anymore?

“Eat a bowl of fuck you!” Well now, this is cutting it pretty close to a line from my favorite horror film of all time, Night of the Demons. “Eat a bowl of fuck!”

The Rusty Nail is a nifty little redneck bar. Love the swinging doors. Very old school.

Oh come on, I seriously doubt his cigarette would still be burning after that length of time.