Jacob's Ladder

Released: 1990

Directed by Adrian Lyne; Written by Bruce Rubin

The visceral experience of Jacob’s Ladder is easily one of the best of the ‘90s. This film conjures a hallucinogenic tone that renders the audience without the ability to distinguish between reality and delusion.

The story revolves around Jacob Singer, a Vietnam veteran now working as a Postal Service employee. While Jacob leads a fairly mundane life, with his girlfriend Jezzy, he is haunted by memories of his previous lives, both in the military and from a failed marriage. These hauntings manifest to forge a paradigm where Jacob moves between these realities, which are equally horrific in their own regard. This is reminiscent of the style employed by director David Lynch, where the audience is left helpless to the barrage of unexpected twists.

This method would not be feasible if it was not for the performance of Tim Robbins. His portrayal of the disturbed Jacob Singer is quite superb and allows for a base upon which to the rest of the film is built.

The fast paced high tension film style, employed by director Adrian Lyne, gives the film its visceral effect. Another film technique employed is the famous “shaking head” effect, where the actor is filmed shaking his head at a low frame rate, then the footage is played at normal speed creating a rather disturbing ghosting-esk effect. This effects appear at various times throughout the film and functions as a cue to initiate the building of tension.

As the film progresses, its brilliance is cut short from perfection as it develops a rather preachy tone. Though its message is integrated into the plot, it leaves the audience with a bit of a lackluster aftertaste. This is not to say, however, that this hinders any other element of this beautifully disturbing film.

Rating: 8/10


  1. the review is great im downloading tonight

  2. Love this.. "renders the audience without the ability to distinguish between reality and delusion." Gonna have to watch this ASAP.

  3. I loved this movie. I won't spoil it for anyone else, but if you want to see a classic - watch Jacob's Ladder. It begins in vietnam, a platoon sits down to eat a meal...