Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Jacob's Ladder is a difficult movie for me to review. It certainly has faults- and the older I get and the more I watch horror films, the more I notice- but back when I was first getting into horror movies, Jacob's Ladder was the first one to convince me that you could have a great and effective horror film even without awesome gore effects and exploitative nudity. So it's very difficult to talk about this movie objectively.

Jacob Singer, a Vietnam War vet, has returned to civilian life. He's working as a mailman and living with his girlfriend Jezebel, but is haunted by bizarre and horrific visions, which are just getting worse and worse. Suddenly, people he knows start dying and it appears he's in the center of some kind of conspiracy. Or is he just crazy?

It's a classic horror movie. Though it can be very heavy-handed at times, Jacob's visions and hallucinations are done so well you can forgive the awkward ending and the clumsy father-son flashback scenes and unnatural "movie" dialog. Even the fact that Jacob himself is a very boring character doesn't really matter much to be honest.

Having said that, I find the movie less and less interesting the more I watch it. The twist at the end blew my mind as a young horror fan. Now it seems trite. I had always felt the script was very strong, but this last time I found much of the dialog artificial. The movie also feels disjointed- things just happen randomly for an hour or so, and then suddenly the movie wraps itself up with an ending that is trying too hard to be touching.

I still enjoy Jacob's Ladder. Just not as much as I did 15 years ago.

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