Daily Archives: April 11, 2020

Horror Films A to Z ~ Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder

Year: 2019
Runtime: 1h 29m
Director: David M. Rosenthal
Writer: Jeff Buhler, Sarah Thorpe, Bruce Joel Rubin
Stars: Michael Ealy, Jesse Williams, Nicole Beharie

After his brother returns home from war, Jacob Singer struggles to maintain his sanity. Plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, Singer rapidly falls apart as the world and people around him morph and twist into disturbing images.

Initial: I thought well of the original 1990 version of Jacob’s Ladder, though it’s been so long that I don’t really remember it.

Production Notes:

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead) I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House was a very slow movie. Not much happens in it. It has sound design that purports danger. Yet, it was during Jacob’s Ladder that I checked the timestamp on the video at least six times and was continually annoyed by the soundtrack.

Spoilers, ahoy, but really just go watch the original (I don’t remember it, but I’m sure it’s better) or go watch The Hurt Locker (2008), which is a better film about war.

It’s obvious that Jacob is an unreliable narrator. There is no causation between what’s going on in the plot and what he’s witnessing. Strange things were going on the entire time, not just after his brother comes on the scene. The film’s soundtrack ramps up every time anything questionable occurs. Shadow? Guy on the subway? Car driving by? It’s got to be something weird because the soundtrack tells me so. Jacob doesn’t go to the police or even tell his wife what’s going on, but we’re also never really presented with any steaks. Sure, people are after him, but for most of the movie we don’t know why and, if his life were really in danger, why would Jacob’s pursuers back off several times when it would have been as easy to kill him? Nicole Beharie was the only bright spot in this tedious movie, but her incredulity works better around an 18th Englishman who is ranting over the sales tax on donut holes.