Jacob (2011) – By Nic Brown

Love is a powerful force. It has inspired artists, has sent kings into battle and it’s helped turn Valentines Day into the most expensive holiday for some people outside of Christmas. Love can be wonderful and love can be painful. However, sometimes love can be the only thing stopping something else, something dark and evil. Writer/director Larry Wade Carrell’s film “Jacob” tells the story of what happens when a mentally challenged young man’s little sister is killed, and how her love was the only thing holding back the darkness inside him.

The film opens in a seemingly perfect small Texas town. Three young boys are out causing the kind of juvenile trouble that kids have been getting into for generations. Two of the boys have challenged the third to go up to the town’s resident haunted house, the old “Kell” place, and call for Jacob. Jacob is a figure of myth to them, a legendary killer said to have slain over a dozen people in the town thirty years before. It’s only when the Sheriff shows up and stops the boys that we learn the truth behind the stories.

Thirty years before, the Sheriff, Billy (played by writer/director Carrell), was just a deputy. His biggest hassle was his brother Otis (also played by Carrell) ) who seemed to constantly be getting into domestic disturbances with his girlfriend Edith (Krystn Caldwell). Despite repeated beatings by Otis and the best efforts of many people in the town, Edith won’t leave her abusive relationship because Otis was the only one to care for her and her two kids after the horrific, and controversial, death of her husband Lawrence (Michael Biehn) years before.

Edith’s children, the hulking sixteen year old Jacob (Dylan Horne) and his younger sister, Sissy (Grace Powell) are an interesting pair. Both of them seem to hear strange voices in their heads, but Jacob’s mental challenges mean that, unlike Sissy, he cannot resist the urges to do evil. Jacob is a 6’4, 400lb Goliath, so when the voices tell him to tear apart a cat or start a fire, one can imagine the consequences. Fortunately for everyone, Sissy can stop Jacob and cut through the voices; in fact she seems to be the only person he truly hears.

One day Otis’s abuse goes too far though and in a rage he accidentally kills Sissy. Now the only force containing the evil inside Jacob is gone and the trouble soon begins. Jacob brutally kills everyone he encounters as he walks the back roads of the small town carrying his sister’s lifeless body in his arms.

“Jacob” isn’t just a slasher gorefest, although when the killing starts there is plenty of blood and guts to satisfy horror fans. The film also has an underlying element of the supernatural in the form of a old house that lies at the center of both Lawrence’s death and the voices that inspire Jacob’s murderous rage. “Jacob” also manages to squeeze in enough ‘small town intrigue’ to make it a fair starting point for a soap opera… except for the gruesome killings of course.

Larry Wade Carrell’s “Jacob” is a fun film that horror fans will enjoy. Unlike many films today, the movie relies heavily on practical make-up and effects to achieve its quotient of blood and guts. While some of the characters in the film are a little too one-dimensional, the movie still works well; after all in the end it’s a horror film first and that’s where “Jacob” really makes its bones. The film also features a number of first-rate performances, most impressive among them is Grace Powell as Jacob’s little sister Sissy. The young actress shines in the feature and has even won the Critics Choice Award for Best Young Actress at the 45th Annual World Fest Indie Film Festival in Houston. Also worth noting is Carrell’s work, despite wearing the hats of writer, director, producer and many more, he is still able to convincingly play two feature roles in the film. His dual roles could have been confusing to the viewer, but Carrell’s skill as an actor shows as he creates two completely separate characters who’s only link is their physical resemblance to each other. In addition to Michael Biehn, the film features cameos by Biehn’s wife, Jennifer Blanc, James Hampton, and even one of the last surviving original 57 Plymouth Furies from John Carpenter’s “Christine”. The bottom line is that “Jacob”, while not really venturing into any new territory in the horror genre, is a real treat for horror fans with its fast pace, great special effects and solid story. So check out Larry Wade Carrell’s “Jacob” and remember, you better think twice before messing around with that old ‘Kell’ place up on the hill.