As a developmentally teen Jacob Kell grapples with coping in a broken home, his abusive, drunken step-father and obstacles in his personal affliction. Can his adoring younger sister Sissy be the only key to keeping the unearthly voices that beckon his devotion?
Directed By: Larry Wade Carell
Starring: Grace Powell, Dylan Horne, Krystn Caldwell, Larry Wade Carell
Jacob is director Larry Wade Carrell’s gripping expose of blood, brutality, bludgeoning and mayhem. His elusive cinematic segues lead audiences into thinking they’re witnessing a ghost story or perhaps a macabre tale of demonic possession. Just when we’re at the peak of wonderment he turns the tables into something different all together. It fixates us, embedded into the story delightfully surprised as the sequence of events as each unfolds.
The protagonists within this story are engaging and readily easy to relate to. We feel Edith’s plight and blind faith in her troubled husband Billy. It tugs upon the audience’s heart strings she struggles to cope with outside pressure from her coworkers to leave her abusive, alcoholic partner. Her challenges in raising a developmentally deficient teen, young daughter and make ends meet in her dysfunctional family unit is one many of us can relate to. On a subconscious level we cheer her on despite sensing the inevitable doom.
Admirable recognition goes to Dylan Horne who plays Jacob. It’s no easy feat to play an inept mastodon on a believable level displaying virtually no overt emotion whatsoever. We get the creeps instantaneously upon first glance and know full well something is not entirely right with the young man. As we begin to witness snippets of his rapid demise we empathize with his affliction even as a lingering sense of loathing begins to surface.
The plot does take some murky detours. Use of the infamous Necronomicon doesn’t seem entirely necessary and provides unnecessary confusion. Reoccurring flashes to Jacob’s biological father’s past is delivered. We’re privy to all kinds of psychological twists and layers to the story. Yet I can’t help shake the feeling these elements don’t hold a tremendous amount of merit. It’s as though the demonic variables were added to provide more haunting passages. In the end it complicates the plot without reason. A plot fueled with this much emotion would have stood fine on its own and introducing spells, curses and folklore simply tarnishes an otherwise compelling tale.
Kudos must be given to an outstanding performance from Carell who wrote, directed and starred in not only one but two roles within the film. He played Billy, the abusive husband as well as Otis, Sheriff Andy’s deputy. Anytime a director adapts more than one role the pressure is on and the audience can’t wait to criticize their endeavor further. Yet his portrayal of each the characters hindered not his direction of the film. Each of his characters virtually steal the show especially as Billy, the reckless, rebellious drunk.
Some memorable scenes are conveyed once the town’s unity in lynching the dangerous Jacob. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the classic Frankenstein tale. The action that persists is disturbing and not for the faint of heart. Some of the kill scenes are inconceivable but points to the director for creativity and thinking outside of the reddened gore box.
A cameo role from co-producer Jennifer Blanc will please the testosterone fuelled demographic. She’s indisputably pleasing unto the eye and it’s a tragedy there isn’t more of her in the film. Film aficionados may remember Ms. Blanc from The Crow with Brandon Lee offering many of the narrative portions to the film. Its endearing to see this actress come into her own.
Jacob was shot on location in varying locales within Texas on a budget of an estimated nine hundred thousand.
-Three out of five tombstones.