Review: ‘The Bell Keeper,’ starring Randy Couture, Kathleen Kenny, Reid Miller, Cathy Marks, Mike Manning, Bonnie Aarons, Daniel Dasent and Chaz Bono

November 3, 2023

by Carla Hay

Reid Miller and Kathleen Kenny in “The Bell Keeper” (Photo courtesy of Screen Media Films)

“The Bell Keeper”

Directed by Colton Tran

Culture Representation: Taking place in Southern California, the horror film “The Bell Keeper” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with one African American and one Latina) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Several young people travel to a remote camping area that is believed to be the hunting ground for a serial killer who appears after a mysterious bell is rung in the woods. 

Culture Audience: “The Bell Keeper” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching terrible horror films.

Randy Couture in “The Bell Keeper” (Photo courtesy of Screen Media Films)

“The Bell Keeper” is about terror that is unleashed after anyone rings a mysterious bell that’s in a remote wooded area. A serial killer keeps vigil over the bell. Someone needs to sound the alarm that “The Bell Keeper” is pure dreck in horror filmmaking.

Directed by Colton Tran, “The Bell Keeper” tries very hard to be the type of horror film that drops in sarcastic jokes to lighten the mood. The problem is that this comedy in “The Bell Keeper” is cringeworthy, outdated, and just not funny at all. Joe Davison and Luke Genton co-wrote the awful screenplay for “The Bell Keeper.”

As bad as the movie’s screenplay is, the acting in “The Bell Keeper” is worse and makes everything much harder to watch until the movie’s idiotic ending. There are some tacky horror movies that are entertaining to watch because they are very self-aware of their low-quality filmmaking and have fun with it. “The Bell Keeper” is not that type of tacky horror movie.

“The Bell Keeper” takes place in an unnamed city in Southern California. The movie was filmed on location in Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, and Ventura County. The opening scene takes place at night and shows two gory murders in a (cliché alert) secluded wooded area that has the fictional name Bell Lake in the movie.

The first person murdered in the movie is a man in his late 20s named Gary Beaumont (played by Nick Theurer), who is beheaded by a muscular man carrying an ax. After killing Gary, the murderer takes Gary’s driver’s license because the killer collects the driver’s licenses of his victims and hangs these licenses on a wall in his home. Gary’s girlfriend Nadine (played by Bailey Castle) is tied to a chair in a shed-like building. The murderer then kills Nadine in the same way that he killed Gary.

Viewers soon find out that this killer’s name is Hank (played by Randy Couture), who has become a local legend (not in a good way), because he’s suspected of being a serial killer but has remained elusive. Hank is believed to be a recluse who lives somewhere in the woods, where there is a mysterious bell located outdoors. According to stories in the area, every time someone rings the bell, Hank appears to hunt down and kill whoever rang the bell and any willing accomplices.

After Gary and Nadine are murdered, a group of five young people take a trip to Bell Lake to make a documentary about urban legends. They arrive by a recreational vehicle camper that’s co-owned by the two brothers who are on the trip. Younger brother Liam (played by Reid Miller), who’s in his late teens, has been living in the camper after secretly dropping out of college. Liam, who loves smoking marijuana, has been making money by selling marijuana that he is growing in the camper.

Older brother Matthew, nicknamed Matt (played by Mike Manning), is in his mid-20s and is the opposite of Liam in many ways. Matt is arrogant, vain, and knows what he wants to do with his life. Liam and Matt have had a tense relationship because Matt has a long history of bullying and insulting Liam.

Although Matt and Liam both own the camper, Matt has to ask Liam’s permission to use the camper for the trip because Liam is the one who’s been paying for the upkeep of the camper, which is actually a grungy mess. Liam is tasked with being the driver for this trip. Matt is the cinematographer for this documentary crew.

Also on this trip is Matt’s confident and friendly girlfriend Holly (played by Cathy Marks), who is directing this amateur documentary. Holly has been trying to mend the fractured relationship between Matt and Liam. She’s hoping that this documentary will be the definitive documentary that will solve the mystery of Bell Lake. (In other words, you just know if Holly finds the notorious bell, she’ll want to ring it on camera and film what happens next.)

The other two people on the trip are sound technician Gabriel (played by Capri-Antoine Vaillancourt) and documentary host Megan (played by Alexis B. Santiago), who are hooking up with each other in a “friends with benefits” situation. Gabriel and Megan are both dimwitted and shallow. Megan is a diva who has some of the worst jokes in the movie.

On their way to Bell Lake, the five travel companions stop at a gas station in this remote area. Matt and Gabriel go in the gas station’s convenience store and meet a buffoonish park ranger named Eugene Carlson (played by Chaz Bono) and a menacing-looking cashier named Jodie (played by Bonnie Aarons), who both warn Matt and Gabriel not to go to Deer Lake when they find out that’s where these travelers are going.

Jodie shouts, “It’s not a joke!” She grabs Gabriel and yells at him: “Hank is ruthless!” Aarons gives a very over-the-top performance in “The Bell Keeper.” Even though Aarons shares top billing for “The Bell Keeper,” she’s only in this one scene in the movie. Her screen time is less than five minutes, but her performance is so extreme, it will probably make viewers laugh instead of feel terrified.

Meanwhile, outside the gas station, a woman in her early 20s is handing out copies of a missing person flyer. Her name is Brittany (played by Kathleen Kenny), and she’s the younger sister of Gary, the man who was slaughtered in the beginning of the movie. At this point in the story, no one except for the killer knows that Gary is dead. Brittany hands a flyer to Liam, who says he hasn’t seen Gary.

Liam is instantly smitten with Brittany, who says she’s headed to Bell Lake too, because that was the last-known place where Gary was seen with Nadine. Liam nervously tries to flirt with Brittany to let her know that he might want to date her. However, Brittany tells Liam that he has no chance with her because she’s a lesbian. Liam still wants to get to know Brittany better, so he invites her to set up her tent close to where the RV camper will be parked at Bell Lake.

The rest of “The Bell Keeper” alternates between boring scenes of people talking and poorly staged action scenes. Of course, the bell is found and rung. Hank comes out of the shadows and goes on a killing spree. The chase scenes are sloppily edited and don’t look believable at all.

As shown in the movie’s trailer, ringing the bell also causes those responsible to turn into demon-possessed creatures. It’s supposed to make “The Bell Keeper” viewers wonder: “Who’s the real menace here?” But it just makes it easier to predict who will live and who will die.

There’s also a part of the movie involving a devil worshipper named Jackson (played by Daniel Dasent), in a terribly conceived part of the story that just makes the plot more of a jumbled mess. “The Bell Keeper” filmmakers made an effort to not have the answers to the movie’s mystery be too obvious. But in doing so, there’s a revelation that just creates more plot holes.

“The Bell Keeper” has some watchable moments when it comes to the friendship that develops between Liam and Brittany. But the acting in this movie is so relentlessly terrible, it takes you out of the intended horror, and it ruins the movie. The worst acting in “The Bell Keeper” is from Couture, who recites his lines as if he’s reading a dictionary that he has a hard time understanding. “The Bell Keeper” is simply one in a seemingly endless stream of trashy horror movies that aren’t very fun to watch and are quickly forgetton.

Screen Media Films released “The Bell Keeper” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on October 13, 2023. The movie will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 5, 2023.

Review: ‘The Nun II,’ starring Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell and Bonnie Aarons

September 7, 2023

by Carla Hay

Taissa Farmiga in “The Nun II” (Photo by Bruno Calvo/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“The Nun II”

Directed by Michael Chaves

Some language in French with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in 1956, in France and briefly in Italy, the horror film “The Nun II” features a nearly all-white cast of characters (with one African American) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Catholic nun Sister Irene teams up with novitiate Sister Debra to battle demon nun Valak at an all-girls’ boarding school in France. 

Culture Audience: “The Nun II” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of “The Nun” movie and other films in “The Conjuring” Universe, but this substandard sequel has a muddled, stereotypical plot that doesn’t do anything interesting or clever.

Jonas Bloquet in “The Nun II” (Photo courtesy of Courtesy of New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures)

“The Nun II” puts a lot of effort into setting up dark and foreboding scenes, but it’s all style over substance. This lazy sequel just churns out weak jump scares and tiresome horror clichés about demons and Catholicism. The story has very little suspense. The 2018 horror film “The Nun” was a big hit, even though that movie’s story was also plagued by the same problems of being witless and very formulaic. “The Nun” movies are part of “The Conjuring” horror movie universe that began with 2013’s “The Conjuring.”

Directed by Michael Chaves, “The Nun II” has some of the same filmmakers on board who were also responsible for “The Nun,” including producers Peter Safran and James Wan. But “The Nun II” has an almost entirely different cast and crew from “The Nun.” Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing and Akela Cooper co-wrote “The Nun II” screenplay.

“The Nun II” takes place in 1956 in France—four years after the events of “The Nun,” which took place in Romania. (“The Nun II” was filmed on location in France.) Taissa Farmiga reprises her role as an American named Sister Irene, an earnest and kind-hearted Catholic nun who finds herself once again trying to defeat a demon nun called Valak (played by Bonnie Aarons), who is capable of possessing human beings.

“The Nun II” begins with a scene in Tarascon, France, where inside a nearly empty Catholic church (which is very dark on the inside, because this is a horror movie), a boy of about 9 or 10 years old named Jacques (played by Maxime Elias-Menet) is doing some chores when he notices that a ball that’s the size of a soccer ball keeps mysteriously moving on its own on the floor. It isn’t long before Valak appears. The only other person in the church is a priest named Father Noiret (played by Pascal Aubert), who meets a horrific fate of being engulfed in flames, which is witnessed by Jacques. News of this tragedy reaches the Vatican.

Meanwhile, in Aix-en-Provence, France, a handyman named Maurice (played by Jonas Bloquet) arrives at new job at St. Mary’s Boarding School for Girls, which used to be a convent years ago. Maurice interacts with the students in a friendly and sometimes protective manner. The girls, who seem to be mostly from the United Kingdom and France, appear to be between the ages of 12 to 14. One of the students, whose name is Sophie (played by Katelyn Rose Downey) is the target of “mean girl” bullies, led by a snobby brat named Simone (played by Léontine d’Oncieu), who puts Sophie in increasing danger as the story goes on.

Maurice likes to look out for Sophie, almost like a father figure. That’s because Maurice acts like he could become Sophie’s stepfather. Maurice is very attracted to Sophie’s single mother Kate (played by Anna Popplewell), who is a teacher at the school. Kate is attracted to Maurice too, but she is much more reserved about expressing her feelings than he is. The details of what happened to Sophie’s biological father are not discussed, but it’s implied that the relationship ended badly and caused a lot of pain to Kate.

Kate being an authority figure at the school doesn’t stop Simone from bullying Sophie. In a scene where Maurice tells Simone to treat everyone with kindness and respect, Simone haughtily tells Maurice why she thinks she doesn’t have to listen to him: “You’re not a teacher. You’re a servant.” And when you have a mean-spirited kid in a horror movie, you know what’s going to eventually happen to that troublemaker when there’s a demon on the loose.

People who saw “The Nun” might notice immediately that Maurice is really someone named Frenchie, a character who lived in the same Romanian village were Valak appeared in “The Nun.” Viewers who remember what happened to Frenchie in “The Nun” (spoiler alert: he was possessed by Valak) will not be surprised when they see Frenchie/Maurice acting strangely while he’s working on the boarding school campus. People at the school, including Sophie, see that Maurice often stands still and stares upward, as if he’s in a trance. Valak strikes again, and a local boy is killed.

And it isn’t long before Sister Irene is asked by an official named Cardinal Conroy (played by David Horovitch) to investigate if there’s a possible demon in Aix-en-Provence, France. The Vatican knows that Sister Irene has a reputation for being good at defeating demons in semi-secretive missions, based on that happened in “The Nun.” Sister Irene is very reluctant to take on this task at first, but she eventually agrees. This time, she’ll have another young nun as her sidekick: Sister Irene has recently become acquainted with a 21-year-old novitiate named Sister Debra (played by Storm Reid), who somehow gets clearance to go on this demon-hunting mission too.

Before the two nuns leave for France, there’s a scene where Sister Debra and Sister Irene briefly talk about their sob story backgrounds to each other. Sister Irene says her mother died when she was young. Sister Irene was despised by her father, who sent her away for being “different” and because he said that Irene was too much like her mother. In this movie, Sister Irene is the “good” nun, while Sister Debra (who is first seen smoking a cigarette) is the “rebellious” nun.

Sister Debra, who African American and originally from Mississippi, says she was also sent away by her father, for different reasons. Their family home was burned down by racists. Sister Debra’s mother died in the fire. Sister Debra’s father then sent his children away because he thought they would be safer if they lived elsewhere. Sister Debra’s brothers were sent away to join the military, while Sister Debra was sent away to become a nun.

At one point, Sister Debra hears the story of the nuns at an abbey in St. Carta (in Romania), where all the nuns were killed, except for one who managed to escape. Of course, Sister Irene knows what happened, but she doesn’t tell Sister Debra right away. Another story is told later about St. Lucy, whose eyes were removed. The two stories are connected to the reason why Valak is on this rampage. The so-called mystery is so easy to figure out, viewers would have to be not paying attention to miss all the obvious clues.

And it would be understandable if viewers stop paying attention while watching “The Nun II.” It’s one of those boring horror movies with characters and scenarios that are so poorly written and unremarkable, a viewer’s mind could easily start to wander while watching this underwhelming slog that is just a series of many scenes that have been done in one way or another (and much better) in several other horror films. All of the scenes where characters are chased or attacked look too fake to be truly horrifying.

Even the movie’s most visually memorable scene turns out to be a dud. In this scene, Sister Irene is alone on a dark and deserted street at night. At a magazine stand that somehow is the only thing on this street with decent lighting, a mysterious force appears to be opening the magazines and flipping pages, until the all the open pages form a mosaic-like image of Valak.

What happens next is just another scene in “The Nun II” that seems like it’s going to be truly terrifying, but then it literally falls flat. (Mild spoiler alert: In this scene, Valak attacks Sister Irene, who is then found unconscious by Sister Debra.) Considering what viewers find out later about Valak’s main motive to kill, the way this scene ends makes absolutely no sense. The production design of this scene also looks phony. It looks more like a movie set than a real street.

“The Nun II” is filled with a lot of scenes that are just thrown in the movie just to show more horror set-ups with not much payoff. There’s a minor subplot about the boarding school’s stern headmistress Madame Laurent (played by Suzanne Bertish), who is still grieving over the death of her underage son Cedric (played by Gaël Raës), who was killed in bombings during World War I. Cedric also used to be an altar boy. As soon as Cedric is mentioned in the movie, you just know what kind of scene will happen when “the ghost of Cedric” makes an appearance.

All of the acting performances are serviceable, but they are hampered by a dreadfully formulaic screenplay that jumps around from one flimsy horror trope to the next. The film editing for the action scenes is very sloppy. A mid-credits scene in “The Nun II” is a knockoff of the last scene in “The Nun.” “The Nun” got a lot of criticism for being dull and often stupid. It seems like the makers of “The Nun II” didn’t care to offer many improvements for this sequel, and they just dumped out a story that wallows in the mush of mediocrity.

Warner Bros. Pictures will release “The Nun II” in U.S. cinemas on September 8, 2023.

Review: ‘Jakob’s Wife,’ starring Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden and Bonnie Aarons

April 16, 2021

by Carla Hay

Barbara Crampton in “Jakob’s Wife” (Photo courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder)

“Jakob’s Wife”

Directed by Travis Stevens

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the horror flick “Jakob’s Wife” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and one Latino) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A minister’s housewife, who’s bored with her marriage, becomes a vampire. 

Culture Audience: “Jakob’s Wife” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in horror movies that mix bloody gore with campy comedy.

Larry Fessenden in “Jakob’s Wife” (Photo courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder)

“Jakob’s Wife” is a memorable vampire flick that serves up a hilariously enjoyable blend of campy horror and gruesome chills, with a dash of female empowerment. The movie isn’t for people who hate the sight of blood. (It’s a vampire movie for adults. What do you expect?) But for people who can handle all the over-the-top gory mayhem in the story, then “Jakob’s Wife” might be your bloody cup of tea.

There are many predictable routes that a vampire movie can take. “Jakob’s Wife” takes some of those routes (for example, the title character’s transformation into a vampire follows the usual conventions of blood lust), but then the movie takes some unexpected and wacky detours. “Jakob’s Wife” director Travis Stevens, who co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with Kathy Charles and Mark Steensland, revels in the movie’s low-budget aura and makes sure that viewers know that this movie is not taking itself seriously at all. “Jakob’s Wife” had its world premiere at the 2021 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.

The title character of “Jakob’s Wife” is Anne Fedder (played by Barbara Crampton), the dutiful spouse of a minister named Jakob Fedder (played by Larry Fessenden), her husband of about 30 years. Anne and Jakob, who do not have children, live in an unnamed small town in the United States. They are Christian, but their specific religion is not mentioned in the movie.

The movie’s opening scene takes place during a church service that Jakob is conducting. He tells the parishioners during his sermon that men should respect their wives because it’s a reflection of how husband feel about themselves. “He who loves his wife loves himself,” intones Jakob.

Jakob is not secretly a hypocrite who abuses his wife. He loves Anne and he treats her very well. Anne hasn’t fallen completely out of love with Jakob, but their marriage has become boring to her. It’s implied that their sexual intimacy has decreased significantly. Jakob is devoted to his work at the church, while Anne spends her days doing workout routines and gardening.

In the movie’s opening scene at the church service, one of the parishioners approaches Jakob and tells him, “It was a beautiful service.” Her name is Amelia Humphries (played by Nyisha Bell), and she’s about 16 to 18 years old. Anne notices that Amelia’s mother Lucy, who is a regular churchgoer, is not with with Amelia.

Anne asks Amelia where her mother is, and Amelia says with some sadness and embarrassment that her mother couldn’t be there because Lucy started drinking again. Amelia adds, “I’m praying for her happiness.” Anne and Jakob express their sympathies.

While Amelia is walking home at night by herself, she’s startled to see some rats crawling around at her feet. She quickly walks away but not long after that, someone with vampire-type hands grabs her from behind. It won’t be the last time that viewers see Amelia.

Not long afterward, Amelia is reported missing. Anne and Jakob have dinner at their house with Jakob’s brother Bob (played by Mark Kelly) and Bob’s wife Carol (played by Sarah Lind). The topic of Amelia’s disappearance comes up in the conversation.

Everyone except Anne seems to think that it’s likely that Amelia ran away. Anne is skeptical of that theory because she thinks Amelia was too close to her mother Lucy to suddenly abandon her. Of course, viewers who know that “Jakob’s Wife” is a vampire movie can easily predict what happened to Amelia.

Over this family dinner, the discussion also includes Anne’s involvement in a construction project that she thinks will be good for their town. She’s apparently part of the town’s Historical Society, which had to approve this project because it’s being built on historical land. The project will be an abandoned mill that is going to be turned into a retail space.

Anne comments that the Historical Society thinks the new retail space will provide tourism and jobs. Jakob is leery of the project because he doesn’t think that anything commercial should be built on this historical land. But there’s probably another reason why Jakob is uneasy about this construction job.

It just so happens that the interior designer for the space is an ex-boyfriend of Anne’s named Tom Lewis (played by Robert Russler), and they haven’t seen each other in years. Jakob calls Tom an “old flame” of Anne’s, while she downplays the relationship that she had with Tom, by saying that they were “just kids” when she and Tom dated each other.

Anne and Tom have agreed to meet for dinner at a restaurant to discuss the construction project. Judging by the way Anne gets ready for the dinner, she wants to look very attractive for this meeting and she might have some unresolved has feelings for Tom. When Anne and Tom see each other again, they can’t help but notice they’ve still got chemistry with each other.

It soon becomes clear that Tom had a “bad boy” reputation when he dated Anne. She comments to him that he was “uncontrollable” in those days. Meanwhile, Tom says to Anne about how she’s changed since he last saw her.

“You a church mouse?” Tom declares with surprise. “What happened to the adventurous Anne who wanted to travel to exotic places?” Anne replies, “You make plans for things and then life happens. It was around the time that you left town that my mother died, and Jakob was there for me.”

Anne continues, “He offered me comfort—and so did the church. They were both steady when I needed support. Make no mistake—we have a good life. I’m happy.” Tom seems to accept that explanation.

But on another day, when Anne and Tom are at the abandoned mill where the new construction will take place, it’s revealed that this was also a place where Anne and Tom had romantic trysts when they were dating each other. Tom brings it up and Anne says she hasn’t forgotten. It should come as no surprise that Anne and Tom start kissing each other.

What happens next at this abandoned mill leads to Anne becoming a vampire. Will Anne have an extramarital affair with Tom? Will Jakob find out that she’s a vampire? And how will Anne satisfy her cravings for blood? All of those questions are answered in the movie.

Anne finds out early during her turning into a vampire that animal blood won’t work for her. There’s a comical scene of her going to the butcher section of a grocery store and asking the butcher (played by Skeeta Jenkins) if she could just buy the blood from the meat. When she gets home and drinks the blood like someone would drink wine or martinis, she discovers that the animal blood actually makes her sick. And yes, there’s a nauseating scene where she vomits up blood like a garden hose on full blast.

People who watch “Jakob’s Wife” should know that the movie is very enthusiastic about showing a lot of blood and bile gushing from bodies of humans and animals. This isn’t the type of vampire movie where a vampire gives neck bites with the minimum amount of blood drainage. No, in “Jakob’s Wife,” the people who get bitten by a vampire have enough blood spewing out of them to fill buckets.

The movie gets chillingly creative in a scene where Anne visits her dentist Dr. Meda (played by Monica L. Henry) for a routine checkup. The doctor notices that Anne has new teeth (that look like baby fangs) growing inside her back teeth. And when an automatic teeth-cleaning device is put on Anne’s mouth, it leads to one of the more horrifying yet intentionally hilarious scenes in the movie.

There’s a lot of crude dialogue that’s also meant to comedic. It’s enough to say that Anne isn’t the only vampire in the story. During an attack by one of the other vampires, this bloodsucker growls to the intended victim: “I’m going to tongue fuck a hole in your head until I puke blood!”

And later, a bratty neighborhood girl (played by Armani Desirae), who’s about 8 or 9 years old, sees Anne acting suspiciously in Anne’s front yard. The girl refuses to leave because she says she wants to learn a new curse word. Anne tells the girl, “Fuck off!” And the girl replies, “I already know that one!” It’s an example of some of the off-the-wall humor in the movie.

Early on in the movie, Jakob scolds two teenagers who are smoking a joint on the hood of his car that’s parked outside the church. One of the teens, whose name is Oscar (played by Omar Salazar) angrily talks back to Jakob, while Oscar’s female friend Eli (Angelie Simone, also known as Angelie Denizard) tries to calm him down and de-escalate the situation. Jakob ends up confiscating the marijuana joint, which shows up later in one of the movie’s comedic scenes.

Where there’s a vampire plague, there’s also a vampire leader. And in “Jakob’s Wife,” that leader is called The Master (played by Bonnie Aarons), who looks like an androgynous Nosferatu type of vampire. The way this creature looks isn’t fully revealed until a certain point in the movie. The Master keeps appearing near Anne and Jakob’s house and ends up having a big moment in the movie that’s one of the highlights of the film.

The cast members of “Jakob’s Wife” lean into their roles with gusto. All of the characters are well-cast, and Crampton’s performance sets the right level of tongue-in-cheek tone (or bite-in-neck tone, as it were) that makes the movie so entertaining to watch. (Crampton is one of the movie’s producers.) And even when there are some horror movie tropes, such as take-charge Sheriff Mike Hess (played Jay DeVon Johnson) and his bumbling Deputy Colton (played by C.M. Punk), there’s enough satire for viewers to know that everyone is in on the joke.

What also makes “Jakob’s Wife” better than the average horror film is that the movie’s characters aren’t complete stereotypes. Jakob isn’t as dull and uptight as people might think he is on first impression. Anne doesn’t become an evil vampire, because she’s someone who struggles with having to adjust to this drastic change in her life.

The movie’s musical score by Tara Busch doesn’t conform to the expected norms of a horror movie that’s about a middle-aged woman who becomes a vampire. Normally, a movie like this would have the usual Gothic scary music or have soundtrack cues using songs that were popular during this middle-aged woman’s youth. Instead, “Jakob’s Wife” is heavy with interludes of modern electronica music that sounds spooky at the same time. It’s almost as if to conjure up images that this minister’s wife could end up at an underground dance club now that she’s a vampire. It should come as no surprise that Anne’s lusty side is awakened, as she takes full control of her sexuality during her metamorphosis.

Underneath all the blood spatter and violent mayhem, “Jakob’s Wife” also has a message of finding one’s identity in the strangest of circumstances. Is it bizarre that a woman finally figures out how to be a strong and independent person only after she becomes a vampire? This movie doesn’t seem to think it’s so far-fetched, and in fact celebrates this transformation. And if the new Anne could change the title of the movie, she’d change it from “Jakob’s Wife” to “Anne the Vampire Warrior.”

RLJE Films and Shudder released “Jakob’s Wife” in select U.S. cinemas and on digital and VOD on April 16, 2021.

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