A Vietnam veteran starts having horrific hellish visions, and must
separate his dreams from his reality to figure out what's happening.
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Directed by Adrian Lyne
Written by Bruce Joel Rubin
Starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello,
Matt Craven, Patricia Kalember, Jason Alexander,
Ving Rhames, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Eriq La Salle
Jacob's Ladder was a bizarre film to say the least, as well as a film that I believe did not live up to its potential. While many consider this film to be one of the most frightening and unsettling films of the 20th century, I'm afraid I must disagree. This films lacks any serious scares, but makes up for it in emotional depth.
I will admit that the film is driven by a haunting performance from Tim Robbins who portrays Jacob Singer, a man torn from his own reality due to his time in Vietnam. Robbins plays Jacob in a very believable way, making him a protagonist to root for. Throughout the film, he is our only constant, our only link to what is truly real. By the end of the film, Jacob's true journey is revealed to us and the horror build-up of the past two hours completely disintegrates in favor of a more traditional twist that does make sense in the context of the film but is ultimately disappointing.
In the end, Jacob's Ladder goes from an unnerving journey into the psyche of a broken man to a social commentary on the treatment of Vietnam veterans, who may or may not have been experimented on during the war. I, for one, was hoping for a more frightening horror film, which is why I left the dinner table feeling less than full.