It is often nice to see indie success stories, especially when the filmmakers create a great movie that actually gets the attention it deserves. Larry Carrell is one of those directors and his movie Jacob has come to DVD and Blu-ray so the world can see one of the more entertaining independent horror movies made in recent memory.
Jacob is a throwback horror movie, one that is not interested in doing anything but creating an uneasy feeling for the viewer and telling a good story. Jacob (Dylan Home) is a mentally challenged young mountain of a man who is extremely protective of his younger sister Sissy (Grace Powell). The two kids have a mother who remains with an abusive husband because she believes she is not worthy of another man after tragedy struck her family in the past. When tragedy strikes the family again, Jacob goes on a murderous rampage and finds himself hunted down by the entire town.
The first thing this movie has going for it are these two leads. Dylan is very menacing and overbearing as the protective older brother. Grace is spectacular as the young sister, whose fate sets Jacob off on a mission into damnation.
Much like many monster movies, going all the way back to Frankenstein, it is not Jacob that is the villain in this movie, but rather the victim to circumstances. The lynch mob in this movie that sets out to stop Jacob is not very different from the torch bearers from the classic Universal horror movie. This is, as all great horror movies should be, a tragedy, and Carrell is able to balance the movie perfectly in this manner.
One of the hardest parts of watching the movie is the fact that you are always in Jacob’s shoes, no matter how many people he kills. As the viewer, you know more information than any character in the movie and understand that, while the lengths to which Jacob goes for vengeance may not be justified, Jacob is not the true evil in the movie.
The basis of the movie, and the entire reason for Jacob’s reign of terror comes down to domestic violence. Yes, there was a possession and a haunting, and that is what caused Jacob’s dad to go crazy and kill so many people in front of his son. However, his mother’s second boyfriend also beat her continuously, driving Jacob to become more angry and more unstable. This was a story where the real life evils finally caused the man-child to snap, and society blamed the child and not themselves. It is a telling story that goes much deeper than a basic indie horror film.
With that said, there are some problems with the movie. As with many independent films, some of the acting is over-the-top. When working with numerous amateur actors, it is hard to get solid performances across the board, but Carrell pulls some great work out of various actors in his crew. It is never enough to distract from the overall effort of the film.
The highlight of the movie is Grace Powell as Sissy. The youngster was 12 years old when she worked on the movie and turned in an amazing performance. Most impressive was Powell’s ability to show emotion through just her eyes without needing to use exposition to explain her thoughts and fears. It was a head-turning performance.
Carrell also lucked out after finishing his first version of the film when he signed Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens) and Jennifer Blanc-Biehn (The Victim) to star in the movie. Biehn portrays Jacob’s dad in flashback scenes that show why the boy turned out like he did. Blanc-Biehn stars as a deputy.
With the addition of name actors, Carrell was able to reshoot parts of the movie and add some needed respectability via a newly prestigious cast.
The Jacob Blu-ray is stacked and there are over four hours of special features to wade through, an amazing accomplishment and something that it is obvious Larry Carrell worked hard on. If you only watch this movie as a bare bones rental or download, you are missing out on some amazing features.
There are two separate commentary tracks on the Blu-ray, the first with Larry Carrell and his cinematographer Stacy Davidson. This track talks a lot about the story itself, as well as how they accomplished the shots, the problems they had to overcome while making the movie, and the tricks they implemented to make everything work. One piece of nice trivia is that the car at the beginning while the police were getting burgers was the actual car from the Stephen King adaptation Christine – the exact car used in that movie and the owner of the piece of movie memorabilia cameos as the driver of the car.
The second commentary track is with Larry Carrell with his two main stars, Dylan Horne and Grace Powell. This is a fun listen as the three reminisce about shooting the movie, share anecdotes about what happened on the set and talk about the craziness of the low-budget independent shoot. Both these tracks are recorded as they watch the movie, making it much better than dull tracks that are just pieced together.
Next up is a one hour feature called “The Journey of Jacob from Behind the Scenes.” This feature gives the viewer everything they need to know about the movie, starting with the casting of each actor, through the shooting of the movie, the effects and a wonderful piece with composer Iain Kelso as he talks about putting together the score using live musicians, something rare in indie films. There is also a nice moment where Michael Beihn talks to a crowd at a screening and explains how Carrell convinced him to be in the movie.
There are a number of deleted scenes, which are mostly extensions of other scenes still in the movie. You can watch these with or without commentary, and all the cuts are for the betterment of the movie. There is also a neat storyboard to screen feature that is actually three screens, one with the storyboard, one with the finished product and one with the rehearsal footage. This is of the flashback scene with Jacob’s dad going crazy in the bar.
There are some screen tests with the actors performing various scenes, a trailer, and a video interview with the Carrell and the cast from Montreal Comic Con.
Jacob is worth watching, even as a rental, but these special features make it a must-buy.