In JACOB’S LADDER director Adrian Lyne (“Fatal Attraction”, “9 1/2 Weeks”) takes us into the depths of one man’s private hell and attempts to explain the psychosis afflicting Jacob Singer.
Former Vietnam veteran and now postal worker Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) finds his life falling apart as his days are increasingly invaded by flashbacks to his first marriage, visions of demons, his dead son and the war. As Jacob and his new wife struggle to keep his grip on sanity, the fine line separating reality and delusion keeps blurring and shifting.
In a directorial tour-de-force Lyne shows us that true terror is psychological, manipulating his characters and audience like a master puppeteer. Made before CGI and MTV-style edits JACOB'S LADDER was filmed in dry, washed out colours with a gritty, grainy appearance giving it a sense of hyper-reality. Here plot, story and characters take precedence. Also unlike many of today's thriller-chillers, JACOB'S LADDER relies on hints rather than revelations. We see the hellish subway, the dirty and empty hallways, the faceless people with strange growths, the bloodstained hospital corridor and more. But what is reality and what is fiction? Is Jacob passing into the afterlife or is he already in it? And what sort of afterlife is it? Is he on a stairway, or rather ladder, upwards to heaven or downwards to hell?
Unlike "The Sixth Sense" or "The Others", in JACOB'S LADDER the pieces don't fall into place: the audience is left to use their imagination as the images, intimidating, brutal and yet beautiful, unfold. Reality slips, slides and stretches as Tim Robbins delivers a performance that traverses a vast range of emotions. To see him do so, and so effortlessly, is to experience acting at its best.