(director: David M. Rosenthal; screenwriters: Jeff Buhler, Sarah Thorpe; cinematographer: Pedro Luque; editor: Richard Mettler; music: Atli Orvarsson; cast: Michael Ealy (Jacob Singer), Nicole Behairie (Samantha), Jesse Williams (Isaac ‘Ike’ Singer), Guy Burnet (Hoffman), Joseph Sikora (Paul Rutiger), Ninja N. Devoe (Nurse Tonya), Nicole Beharie (Samantha, Jacob’s Wife), Michael Panes (Psychotherapist); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Michael J. Gaeta, Mickey Liddell, Jennifer Monroe, Alison R. Rosenzweig; Vertical Entertainment; 2019)
“Falls into all kinds of trouble trying to keep things lucid but is still diverting and entertaining.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Jacob’s Ladder refers to the biblical story in Genesis 28:12 — the one featuring a dream sequence meeting between the estranged brothers Jacob and Esau.
Director David M. Rosenthal (“The Perfect Guy’/”Janie Jones”) makes his psychological thriller version of the 1990 Adrian Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder, that this film is based on, slightly different but not better. There’s a different twist at the climax that gives it a surprise ending. It’s written by Jeff Buhler and Sarah Thorpe, who based it on the original 1990 script by Bruce Joel Rubin. The creepy horror story over dealing with wartime psychological issues in civilian life revolves around hallucinations, demonic visions and unreliable witnesses. It falls into all kinds of trouble trying to keep things lucid but is still diverting and entertaining.
Jacob Singer (Michael Ealy) was a military trauma surgeon in Afghanistan who has been home in Atlanta for over a year. He works as a surgeon at the V.A. hospital and is married to Samantha (Nicole Behairie). They have a baby son who was born while he was abroad. The vet is haunted by the memory of being in the operating room in a field hospital when his soldier brother Isaac (Jesse Williams) died from combat. Jacob now sees ghosts warning him to look after his brother from a soldier his brother knew from combat (Joseph Sikora), who tells him his brother is still alive but needs his help. To add to his stress, Jacob has numerous hallucinations and flashbacks from his childhood to his war experiences. Suffering from post traumatic stress, he’s being treated by a psychotherapist (Michael Panes) trying to get him to calm down from all his anxieties.
The cult status film never seemed credible with its outlandish ploys, so I could never fully buy into its belabored narrative or its weirdness or its cheap CGI scares. Nevertheless it’s a thoughtful unsettling film (but more as a thriller than one dealing with a PTSD problem). It has fine performances from the estranged brothers (Ealy & Williams), which makes it edgy..
REVIEWED ON 8/20/2019 GRADE: C+