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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average: 2.22%
Pretty Bad: 4.44%
Total Crap: 1.11%

3 reviews, 72 user ratings

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Jacob's Ladder (1990)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Brian McKay

"This ladder only goes down . . . STRAIGHT TO HELL!!"
5 stars

Good psychological horror is hard to find - and it's especially surprising to find any in the resume' of director Adrian Lyne, who brought us such fluff as "Foxes", "Flashdance", "Indecent Proposal", and most recently, "Unfaithful". Somehow, he not only stumbled upon a gem like "Jacob's Ladder" but actually made it into a great film. One of the most disturbing films of the past decade, it has influenced several other works - most notably the "Silent Hill" series of video games, which, like this film, are some of the most frightening and unsettling works of their kind.

Tim Robbins plays Jacob Singer, a postal worker with a master's degree in philosophy who also happens to be a Vietnam Veteran. It has been a few years since he came back from in-country, and is now living in New York with his girlfriend Jezzie, (the unconventionally sexy Elizabeth Pena, who for some reason spends a lot of time naked in this film). One night, as he takes the subway home, he begins to experience terrifying visions of faceless, shuddering "demons" that seem to be following him. These monsters are, without a doubt, some of the most disturbing things you've ever seen in a horror film, and they just get creepier-looking as the film progresses. These are not "monsters" in the traditional Hollywood sense, however. These vague and shadowy figures leave just enough to the imagination to touch upon a kind of instinctual fear.

Afraid that he may be losing his mind, Jacob finds clues that lead him to believe that his visions may in fact be hallucinations caused by Army chemical weapons testing during the war, with a batallion of "friendlies" serving as gineau pigs - Jacob's batallion. The more he tries to investigate, however, the more he sees the "demons", and brings down other forces upon himself as well - like shadowy "government" men who look and act more like mafiosos. But things don't quite add up. Are his visions merely chemically-induced hallucinations? Or is he truly being pursued by demonic forces?

Somewhat reminiscent of a David Lynch film, Singer also begins to jump between alternate realities. One minute he is with Jezzie. The next he is back with his ex-wife, who we have previously been told divorced him several years ago. The next he is back in the jungles of Vietnam. Which reality is the "real" one, is the puzzle that both Jacob, and the viewer, must solve.

The cast does an exceptional job, Especially Tim Robbins, who made a bold departure from the eccentric comedy roles he had previously been known for (i.e. "Tapeheads") with this film. Pena is also very good as the longsuffering girlfriend who vacillates between concern for and irritation with Jacob's increasingly erratic behavior. Danny Aiello gives a strong supporting role as Louie, Jacob's Chiropractor who also serves as a spiritual guide.

The film's tight pacing, and the meticulate building of its tense and macabre atmosphere, will draw you in. But what will stay with you is the creepy-ass imagery, especially moments like the Hospital basement scene. Should you have a problem with sleeping too well at night, Try watching this movie a few times, and then playing the Silent Hill games. Nightmares guaranteed.

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originally posted: 05/29/02 14:09:44
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User Comments

4/02/13 David Hollingsworth frightening, eerie exercise in non-horror filmmaking 5 stars
7/09/09 joey jo poss:end is really him letting memories of nam die, he lives on and is free of the horror. 5 stars
1/25/09 Allen genius a tremendously affecting experience 5 stars
11/20/08 remey Seen it when it first came out. I was only 12. Scared the holy shit out of me. 5 stars
5/31/08 Mike great insight into the mind of a man who is slowly leaving this life and entering the next. 5 stars
5/30/08 Candy War Hole Don't listen to him, Silent hill is but a pale immitation of how horrifying this movie is. 5 stars
3/26/08 shirley the best novie ever done Ambrose Bierce 100 years in the future 5 stars
2/02/08 Alex Hole hell. This is the scariest film I've ever seen, period. 5 stars
11/26/07 melonblast357 Phenomenal film; scares the living shit outta me still!!! 5 stars
8/01/07 fools♫gold Burnin my memories away... 5 stars
7/22/07 Sergio Original, intelligent. Atmospheric . 5 stars
6/27/07 Steve Scariest movies ever! Very Underrated 5 stars
6/20/07 karmajaxx very good film that engages the mind and stays with you long after the movie is over. 4 stars
5/20/07 action movie fan obscure plot-not scary or very interesting 2 stars
4/10/07 ES-designr Great movie. Critics seem to ignore some dimensions and meaning of the story. 5 stars
8/26/06 james burke "It won't just scare you-it will fuck you up for life" 4 stars
7/21/06 BC As a big Silent Hill fan I've always wanted to see it. I just did. It's great! 5 stars
3/12/06 Joshua Webb Excellent, a film that really defines horror. Not frightening, but disturbing, in my view. 4 stars
1/16/06 Tim My Favorite movie. Basta 5 stars
12/12/05 daniel incredibly smart script, perfectly directed 5 stars
11/24/05 Indrid Cold Far above average for sure, but not quite the scariest thing I've ever seen. 5 stars
9/30/05 ShabbaRanks Overrated-as-all-hell, BUT...still interesting. Definite creepiness abounds. Crap ending. 4 stars
8/26/05 JamesBorges good review, good movie 4 stars
8/19/05 ES Not the great movie they make it out to be, confusing and gross at times 2 stars
3/24/05 matjaž it lacks of good cinamatography 4 stars
3/12/05 craig varney never saw what was coming 4 stars
2/27/05 mike excellant 5 stars
2/11/05 Jeff Anderson AN INTENSE MIND TRIP DONE RIGHT! Scary, thought-provoking, smartly written & acting's GREAT 5 stars
1/13/05 Dondi Ligon An excellent psychological thriller!!! 5 stars
12/16/04 jake a truly frightening experience. even avid horror fans will get scared...arrgh 5 stars
11/15/04 Billy Pitts Based on Ambrose Bierce's short story: Incident at Owl Creek Bridge. Enjoyed it very much. 5 stars
10/22/04 Vince Very good script and acting. Highly Recommended. 5 stars
9/22/04 Al Guy A smart movie that is chilling. Rare these days. 5 stars
6/30/04 Anita Wow. This movie relies solely on good acting, good script and symbolism and it delivers! 5 stars
4/08/04 baker what horror should be like 5 stars
4/04/04 Matthew Great film, one that will stay with you for years to come. 5 stars
4/03/04 john a truly original thriller - great concept and brilliantly shot 5 stars
3/20/04 true review a must see, not just a movie, a journey into mind and soul, triumphant walk thru purgatory 5 stars
2/26/04 Shieldknight Frightening. Captivating. A monumental film in which tension builds until the final frame. 5 stars
12/07/03 Gary Exceptionally Outstanding, A Real Mind Job! Whew...It left a permanent impression upon me. 5 stars
11/25/03 Artist Freak Scary as hell, and intelligent enough to keep you guessing. 5 stars
9/18/03 Harry Mason Scariest movie ever. 5 stars
8/31/03 Jacob It makes me wonder - does any of this really exist? 5 stars
7/18/03 R.W. Welch Jumbled but nicely acted conspiracy theory flick. Imaginative in spots. 3 stars
6/24/03 The Man Dream on 5 stars
5/10/03 Hans Geurts Deeply disturbing, but an excellent film 5 stars
2/13/03 Matthew C. Jones Too scary and intense for a real schizophrenic to handle, but remark 5 stars
10/23/02 Kain Lacroix A movie for the soul forged, not the weak of mind. Of you don't like it, go watch mtv. 5 stars
6/22/02 Kever One great movie. Watch the longer cut, it kicks even more ass. 5 stars
6/01/02 Johnny-oh what he said. Outstanding, creepy, and cerebral. 5 stars
5/30/02 Charles Tatum Adrian Lyne's best film 5 stars
4/22/02 dave tiring and tedious self indulgent clap-trap 1 stars
4/10/02 Cheese-Grater jesus, what a warped ass film..shakey weird effect like house on haunted hill...shit scary 5 stars
4/01/02 Katie G I thought the movie used good camera techniques such as the special effects. 3 stars
3/29/02 Monster W. Kung One of the best movies of the early 90s. 5 stars
2/08/02 derwyn wright the film was tha bomb, best of its time and still holds strong in the 2002 year 5 stars
12/31/01 daniboy what? 5 stars
11/15/01 ddthefly one of the most complex script and physical sensations 5 stars
9/12/01 Jessica Selwood Keeps you guessing till the very end. Holds you in suspence the whole time. 4 stars
7/20/01 MiS^DeMeAnOr all I can say is...."whoa..." 5 stars
7/15/01 Basil One of the most scary movies of all time. 5 stars
3/03/01 Neco I was literally petrified after seeing this film. Huge. 5 stars
3/02/01 josh campbell good show 4 stars
2/13/01 Jake I was amazed by the harrowing nature of this film. Costanza was even in it! 5 stars
2/07/01 Tim Gee Mind blowing. Flush your LSD, you can quit!! 5 stars
2/05/01 Your mom is on me trys to be to scary 2 stars
1/28/01 Soggy Bottom Boy One of the best films of the 90s, a classic mind-fuck movie... 5 stars
7/23/00 aitch no reviewer has yet plumbed the full biblical depths 5 stars
6/13/00 Chen Kenichi Excellent film. I *hate* horror/slasher flicks, too. 5 stars
6/12/00 happyhappyjoyjoy Just make sure you stop the film before the paragrpah at end. 5 stars
5/18/00 Creeper This is one of the freakiest damn movies I ever did see 4 stars
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  02-Nov-1990 (R)
  DVD: 14-Sep-2010



Directed by
  Adrian Lyne

Written by
  Bruce Joel Rubin

  Tim Robbins
  Elizabeth Peņa
  Danny Aiello
  Matt Craven
  Jason Alexander
  Ving Rhames

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