Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden are two legends in horror. Crampton has been acting since the 80's with credits like Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), and Chopping Mall (1986). After taking a break to start a family, she made a return in 2011 starting with You're Next, Beyond the Gates (2016), and We Are Still Here (2015) which also had Fessenden in the cast. Fessenden is a writer/producer/director and founder of Glass Eye Pix, a studio that served as a means to allow him to work uninterrupted in and around upstate New York while also fostering the next generation of filmmakers. He's worked in genre and made films like Habit (1995), Wendigo (2001), Beneath (2013), Depraved (2016), and The Last Winter (2006). These two have been around for decades and also worked together on Fessenden's radio theater revival podcast, Tales from Beyond the Pale.
With Jakob's Wife, Barbara Crampton was initially looking to produce the film and work as a producer as she really loved the script and took on the task of making it better and getting it funded and shot. As the script improved, Crampton decided to sink her teeth into the role of Annie Fedder. Though the title lacks her name, this is Annie's story and we are with her as she contemplates the current state she finds herself: unhappy and unsatisfied with her life. We learn that Annie does love Jakob and sees him as a stable presence in her life when it wasn't but she is not his equal. He takes her for granted and expects her to support him which really causes tension as Annie begins to change after she encounters the Master (Bonnie Aarons). This chance meeting comes about when Annie meets with an old boyfriend, Tom (Robert Rusler of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 fame and other 80's flicks), as they are touring an old mill he is looking to purchase and he turns it into a moment of conflict for Annie as he kisses her and tempts her with cheating on Jakob.
The bulk of the film is an examination of a long-married couple forced to take stock of not just themselves but the dynamics of their relationship that have never been addressed in 30 years. As the horrifying situations play out with a touch of humor (the redecorating scene comes to mind), Annie asserts herself more and more, ultimately accepting what she is becoming and liking her new found prowess. This is a vampire movie and also a story about a woman wanting to be noticed and respected. She is not willing to stand in anyone's shadow anymore. The Master is not an oppressive force either, rather a liberator who tells Annie that she has always had the power to change her station in life and never had to accept her role as "Jakob's wife". At the conclusion it is clear that the only way Jakob and Annie can move forward is with her being her own person. This is a great example of genre serving to frame a very human story we don't see often: older characters and their struggles with ageing and their place in life. This flick is available on VOD as of this writing and will be hitting Shudder August 19th.