Sunday, October 28, 2018
31 Days of Dread--Day 28
Jacob's Ladder; 1990; written by Bruce Joel Rubin; directed by Adrian Lyne
Jacob Singer is literally having a hell of a time.
Played by a young and vulnerable-looking Tim Robbins, Singer is a wounded Vietnam vet and postal worker living in New York City. If those two things weren't bad enough, he finds himself lost in a creepy subway, attending a party where a demon seems to ravage his girlfriend, suffering from a strange fever that brings on terrifying hallucinations, haunted by memories of another life and family, part of a group of men who were possibly given an experimental drug without their knowledge, and taken to a hospital filled with monstrosities and operated on without anesthesia. In between, reality seems to be cracking open all around him, spilling out its rotten insides.
What truly makes this slippery tale worth watching almost thirty years after its release is the vision of director Adrian Lyne. Made before anyone had ever heard of CGI, the special effects of Jacob's Ladder were all practical and created "in camera," with no post-production work to sweeten them. As a result, they pack a visceral punch, delivered from a fist with real blood on its knuckles and dirt beneath its nails.
Lyne cited the artwork of Francis Bacon as an inspiration for Jacob's Ladder, and the film went on to influence the Silent Hill video game and film franchises. It shouldn't come as a surprise that a remake is in the works for 2019; it will be interesting to see what the filmmakers do in an effort to surpass the original's power.
Jacob's Ladder is available on Amazon Prime (hurry!--only until November 1) and streaming rental.