Jacob's Ladder - Movie Review
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) returns home from the Vietnam War a broken man living a broken life. He is estranged from his wife, still haunted by the death of his son (Macaulay Culkin) preceding the war and lives with another woman while working for the United States Postal Service. As he struggles with the existential minutia of everyday life, he finds himself more so at war with post-traumatic stress disorder following his time spent at war. His current girlfriend he suspects is a deceitful whore preying on his vulnerabilities and his post-war life begins to spin out of control in a macabre and horrifyingly surreal journey that will stick with you like a needle in the forehead.
I saw this movie in early 2000, ten years after it was released. The story leading to my first viewing is succinctly put- my roommate brought the DVD home, said we were going to watch it. I said 'Tim Robbins, horror. Ok.' and one-hundred thirteen minutes later I had just seen one of my top-five favourite movies. It draws you in with a pitch-black clutch and the plight of Jacob Singer has you by the throat from the get-go.
Early in the film, there is one of my favourite usages of trope/foreshadowing in film, and upon a second viewing things like this are what make for good storytelling- that which you don't notice the first time you watch it that come back with the elation of 'oh wow'. The layers that are hidden beneath the obvious distractions. And sure, this movie is really fucked up, and really dark. But apart from that, it's just really well-executed for what it is. A man lost in the abyss, trying to find his way back to the light, and while I do not scare easily, this movie was terrifying in a way most movies aren't.
I love this movie, it's in my top-five, and you should most certainly watch it.