Jacob's Ladder (1990) Poster

(I) (1990)

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Simply One Of The Most Fascinating Horror Films Ever Made
gogoschka-111 February 2018
This is simply one of the best films hardly anyone ever saw (OK - it's got 80+ thousand votes on IMDb - but I'm still amazed that it's not 3 times that number).

Amazing script, acting, story, visuals; it makes you wonder why Adrian Lyne didn't make more films of that caliber. Don't get frustrated if you don't understand the film at first. It DOES make sense, but it usually takes repeat viewings to figure this one out. 9 stars out of 10.

In case you're interested in more underrated masterpieces, here's some of my favorites:

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Schizophrenic insanity
rdoetjes16 November 2017
I finally saw this movie. It's impossible to obtain for some reason and I saw it at a friend's movie shelf.

We put it in and your like Alice sucked down the rabbit hole. You literally do not know if Tim's characters is in the real world or (re)living one of his psychotic attacks or is Dreaming. You're constantly jerked around in this maze of insanity. It's subtexts post-partum grieve, psychosis, helplessness and inevitability are very strong elements that are played with in a grotesque yet very mature and refined way.

And when you think you've finally figured out where the exits of this maze of madness is then you find yourself in a dead end.

It's not an easy watch especially for anyone who's suffered a panic attack let alone a psychotic attack. This is as real as psychological horror gets.
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war screws people up
Lee Eisenberg27 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It's easy to see Adrian Lyne's "Jacob's Ladder" as a simple psychological thriller. But I interpreted it as saying that war screws people up. This isn't just PTSD. The protagonist's harrowing experience in Vietnam is causing him to see all sorts of horrifying things. And there's also the issue of gaslight: the lawyer tells the protagonist "you weren't in Vietnam" and the shadowy agents try to muzzle him (despite what we find out at the end).

This isn't the scariest movie ever, but it's an intense one. I have no doubt that a number of people lost their grip on sanity after experiences in war (especially one as pointless as the Vietnam War). Tim Robbins achieved one of the high points of his career with this movie, with good support coming from Elizabeth Peña and Danny Aiello, as well as brief appearances by Jason Alexander (George on "Seinfeld"), Ving Rhames (Marsellus in "Pulp Fiction"), Macaulay Culkin (right before he got famous in "Home Alone"), Lewis Black (a comedian who performs in the persona of a man having a nervous breakdown) and S. Epatha Merkerson (a supporting actress in a variety of movies and shows).
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What is really happening
tonyh-2334319 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
What can I say, this is one of the best films ever made and the ONLY film I've have had to watch again immediately after it finished. It was after this second viewing that I finally got what was going on.

The whole film hinges on what's real and what Jacob is imagining. All the way through you think reality is the parts of the film that are set in what appears to be the present, with Jacob holding down a job and having scary visions of demons, and that the 'flashbacks' he keeps having about Vietnam and being on the stretcher in the helicopter are memories. Then, at the end, BOOM you realise reality is that he's on the helicopter and he's dying. He's clinging to life, drifting in and out of consciousness, trying to fill in a life he imagines he would have once he returns home after the war. The 'demons' he sees are because he hasn't made his peace and he feels guilty about the death of his son. this is perfectly summed up by Danny Aiello's character Louis when he says: "The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul. So the way he sees it, if you're frightened of dying and... and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth. It's just a matter of how you look at it, that's all. So don't worry, okay? Okay?" It takes the spirit of his dead son to come and tell him it's OK and he doesn't blame him to enable him to make his peace and let go.

Totally blew my mind when I saw it all those years ago, and remains a completely underrated film in my view. See it!
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A gem of the psychological thriller genre
agustintomaslarghi20 August 2017
This is the first review that I write on IMDb, just for the fact that this is a terribly underrated film, and I couldn't believe that this film scored just a 7.5/10 while films such as The Sixth Sense scored a 8.1/10

Jacob's Ladder kept me at the edge of my seat all the time, not knowing what to expect next. This film embodies the core principles of the psychological thriller genre, you don't know if the protagonist is just suffering from PTSD, if is something going wrong for real, if his in hell or something like that, what is real and what is in his mind.

The acting of Tim Robbins in this film is really outstanding, you can feel the fear and the pain of the protagonist through the film with each dialog, with each scene, you just want him to have some peace. The movie throws at you many symbolisms, making you guess what's going on.

If you like the Silent Hill game sage (which is heavily influenced by this film) you're going to love this film.

If you like psychological thrillers but you hate when the plot is really obvious or the plot twist is just a slap on your face, be sure that this isn't that kind of film.

Not gonna lie you, the ending can make you feel a little empty, but if you're watching a psychological thriller you're not in for the happy ending.

This film is twice as good when you watch it a second time, because you can tie all loose ends and all the symbolisms through the movie. Hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
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Very intense and powerful along with things which can be believed
richspenc26 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers


"Jacob's ladder" is very powerful, intriguing, and dramatic. It really makes you think. Jacob is in Vietnam sitting at his camp.with rest of his platoon just shooting the s***. Suddenly the camp is seemingly invaded by enemy platoon. Everyone flips out all crazy like I never even seen before, one guy seizuring out on his back, several guys with limbs graphicly severed off. Jacob runs off into the jungle and is brutully.stabbed by what seemingly then was an enemy soldier. This is where the very eerie, ullusionary visions and hallucinations begin on screen for the audience. Seemingly, we are then flash forwarded in time to after the war where Jacob is no longer with his wife and kids as he was before the war. He's living with a girl from his post office job, Jezzie (Elizabeth Pina). He keeps getting flashbacks (frightening ones) from the war, and (pleasant ones) from his marriage and his kids including his deceased son Mackuely Culkan, who was run over by a truck while on his bike right before going to Vietnam. He starts getting very weird, spooky visions of demons, the devil, monsters, and speedy shaky heads. It was freaky. He had a real friend though in his chiropracter, Danny Ialo who was very understanding through his experiences. Jacob learned about "the ladder", an unusually intense hallucinary weed he and his platoon smoked in Vietnam, and he believed what was happening was he was still.suffering long term effects from it even years later. SPOILERS Things, we find out, can turn out to be nothing like they seem. Here is my analysis of the picture for those who have seen the film all the way through. Jacob never survived past Vietnam. First, it turned out that Jacob was stabbed by a member of his own platoon, and there was no enemy troup, they all psyched out on each other due the unusual weed's effect. When Jacob got stabbed in the jungle, he died slowly, and painfully, with serious emotional, mental, and physical pain. Everything we see after the start of the movie when he gets stabbed in all products of Jacob's awareness. It is a combination of his past memories (his past marriage and being with his sons including the deceased one), his "what could've happened" future if he made the wrong choices (everything with life with Jezzie, , his seeing his old friends and lawyer about what Vietnam did to them, and seeing the chemical scientist about "the ladder" experiment), his "what could've happened" future if he made the right choices (being back with his wife and 2 surviving sons, such as the hospital bed scene right before hearing the spooky "dream on" voice), and Jacob's nightmares and fears (the "dream on" voice, the spooky staring woman and creature under the blanket on the subway, all the demons, creatures, and fast shaking heads shown throughout the film, the almost getting run over, almost getting blown up, the freaky ride through the weird gruesome images on the hospital guerny, the back room with the man who tells him he's dead and then drills into his head (which is where it's revealed that Jezzie was on the devil's side, why else was she with them there)). Every bit of all of these experiences were all mixed together in one big pot of stew, which were in the moments between Jacob getting stabbed and him finally passing away, when he reunites with his deceased son at the foot of the stairs and ascends with him up to heaven. I believe in the afterlife. I believe that everything that happened in this film is the picture of Danny Ialo explaining "When you are scared of dying, and you are holding on, you will see demons tearing your life away, but once you have made your peace, the demons are really angels freeing you from the earth". I love that, and it is very true. That was Jacob's journey from his life to the afterlife. Danny was in a sense his guardian angel. It is sad how there are a few people wanting to now say this movie now works on the "no afterlife" thinking and everything in the movie was all in Jacob's head before fading into nothingness. I've seen the program where the directors and producers are talking about the making of the film, they were all saying that Jacob going to heaven were their implications and intentions while creating the story. Danny's philosophy no longer makes so much sense with that no afterlife thinking, angels do not free you from the earth and into nothingness. Some people, such as a few of these reviewers, want to now twist already made ideas into their own terms to fit their own skeptical beliefs. This new no afterlife thinking today is a product of the new skeptical, distrusting, superficial, spiritless society forming in 2010s America.
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Not Tim Robbins's best movie but definitely the weirdest .
Anthony El-megerhi1 April 2017
one of the best psychological thriller movies about Vietnam veteran "Jacob" experienced weird dream while he was in coma the movie will change your mood and make you ponder deeply about death if you're into philosophical movie here's one for you , don't miss it , if you have watched " The jacket" by John Maybury you may find it similar with this one and finally i'd like to mention a quotation i really believed from this movie "if you're frighting of dying the devil will tear your life apart but if you've made your peace then the devils are really angels freeing you from earth" Enjoy .
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The many forms of Hell on Earth
Anssi Vartiainen21 March 2017
Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins), a Vietnam War veteran, works as a post office clerk despite having a PhD. His time in the army still haunts his daily life. And slowly it starts to become possible that this might hold true quite literally.

Jacob's Ladder shines as a movie because of its sheer style and atmosphere. Its cinematography and set designs have that 80s urban grit to them, but the style overall leans more towards psychological horror and those things that lurk in the dark places of the world than is normal for the 80s. We quite quickly realize that Singer is suffering from visions, which makes us question all the events that follow and have happened before. But not in a bad way. Part of the unease and the horror is the unknown, the unreliability.

The film is also shot really well. The urban grit works well mixed with visuals of horror. The dark alleys, the poorly lit apartments and the dirty rays of light permeate everything. One of the themes of the film is Hell on Earth, and we really get that. Obviously the flashbacks to war are horrendous and hellish, but even those scenes where Singer simply walks around in his crumbling city make us realize that he just exchanged one life of torment for another.

One real problem I have with this film are the horror elements. They're visually impressive, but lack that spark otherwise. They're used sparingly, sometimes too much so, and we never quite get that gut punch required to make their presence in the film warranted. The same with the ending. Beautifully shot, but doesn't deliver on the story- level.

Nevertheless, it's a great watch for all fans of mystery horror. Its imagery is top notch, its atmosphere is amazing and it will definitely feed your nightmares for a few nights to come.
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One HELL of a Nightmare!
tiskec12 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is outstanding. It's scary in your creepy, thriller, and psychosis kind of way. However, this movie is also scary in the fact that it reveals that government secrets do exist. They're not just a bunch of jive.

In the movie, the main character Jacob is shown in early Vietnam, wounded and winding down to unconsciousness. He eventually wakes up in the "post Vietnam War," to find out his son and his family are okay. He lives a "normal" life as a mailman in New York City. Then, he starts getting these weird visuals, people with tails and foreign body structures. Eventually, they all turn into monsters. Then one day, he wakes up in a bed next to a woman he knew before he met his wife; he's all confused about this. He starts living in two alternate realities, with visions of occurrences that aren't quite clear, or that contain hellish creatures and settings.

In one of his realities, he calls all of his Vietnam buddies to see if they're experiencing the same situations he's going through. Lone and behold, they're all experiencing "it." They all thought they would think each individual would think they were nuts if they admitted it, but they soon establish that they're not nuts among each other.

Jacob soon finds out through his dream that a chemist had been experimenting with a new drug in order to make super soldiers out of the Army. The test was selected of a small platoon in the Vietnam jungle. It worked alright; so good that the whole platoon killed each other afterwords. it filled everyone with super human rage.

You think all of this is fiction, but it's not. Everything that happened was of Jacob's self conscience, unwilling to let go of his family. He's actually dying in a Vietnam medical facility, pumped full of this drug. He is actually living in his self conscience. This movie is very creepy. There is a synopsis at the end that verifies the testing of this drug on Vietnam soldiers during the war. It also states that the Pentagon still tries to deny the authorization of this testing/strategy. The Pentagon doesn't want to take any responsibility (hmmm, sound like American politicians to me).

I will let the viewer experience what happens in the end. I don't want to spoil too much. This movie is outstanding. At the end, I was just like...."wow." I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone.
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Highly recommended psychological thriller rewards close viewing
Leofwine_draca7 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Although a definite case of "style over substance", Adrian Lyne's movie is nonetheless powerful and compelling viewing, although overlong and a little slow in parts. Halfway through the movie walks a fine line between being irritating and being profound before finally falling in the latter camp. It charts the turmoil-filled life of Tim Robbins, a postal worker who is plagued by paranoia and hideous nightmares. His descent into madness and despair is a difficult one to watch, thanks to the strong characterisation and good acting on Robbins' part, although the shock-twist ending (which will be familiar to any viewer in this post-SIXTH SENSE world) is both brilliant and infuriating in equal measure.

Horror fans seeking some real chills rather than the standard bloody carnage (although there are some brief, horrifying glimpses of that in the Vietnam flashbacks) will no doubt be pleased with the numerous disorientating, highly disturbing visuals that this film has. These mainly take the form of the "demons" which Robbins sees forever chasing and trying to kill him; their heads shake in a super-fast motion (like in the HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remake) thanks to some nifty special effects apparently done there and then on set. These "demons" surpass even the ones in the same year's GHOST in terms of weirdness and sheer scariness and are definitely a highlight of the movie.

Other scenes to watch out for include a disturbing party scene in which strobe lighting is used to great effect; and the film's major, prolonged sequence in which Robbins is wheeled from a brightly-lit hospital into the very depths of Hell. Great, scary stuff. Something most reviewers fail to mention are also the effective on-the-street locations that this film has, as Robbins spends most of his time with the down-and-outs on the dirty, rubbish-strewn streets of New York. At one point he gets his wallet snatched by a guy dressed as Santa! Burnt-out cars and graffiti populate Robbins' surroundings giving the film a very depressing, downbeat feel.

The acting is pretty great all round, with Robbins giving it his all as Jacob in the role that possibly geared him towards movie stardom. The underrated Elizabeth Pena is also great as the sympathetic, charming girlfriend, and Danny Aiello is excellent in his cameo as Louis, a doctor with unconventional methods. Even the presence of a pre-stardom Macaulay Culkin can't negate the quality acting of the rest of the cast. The conspiracy angle of the film is handled nicely, when Robbins meets up with his former war buddies only to find them mysteriously "silenced". Varying wildly between intense and sombre moods, the film's conclusion is one which had me in tears, which not many films have the power to do these days. JACOB'S LADDER comes highly recommended, but be prepared to concentrate at all moments and stick with it, as it's by no means an easy film to watch.
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A melancholic horror
sergeslevin24 July 2016
Jacob's Ladder is a very rare psychological exploration of the human mind under extreme stress. A film that gets under your skin and stays with you for years after watching it. What's the secret formula? How were the creators able to accomplish such a smart movie that touches you to the bottom of your soul? I strongly believe the subliminal messages conveyed through very abstract and surreal imagery, as well as juxtaposing specific emotional moods - was what made it so impactful. The story itself is very moving and not for the light hearted. Can't really label it as a horror, thriller, or a drama. It's so unique that it deserves its own category: perhaps something like: Melancholic Horror. The story arc is poetic and the cinematography is extremely immersive. Not many other works came close to achieving this same sense of perpetual thought and reflection. Definitely a classic to be watched by the generations.
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One of the scariest films ever made, in the best ways possible
NateWatchesCoolMovies11 July 2016
Few supernatural horror films tap into the abstract realm of the unconscious quite as effectively as Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder. There's a select group out there who have done it as well (Tarsem Singh with The Cell, Hellraiser and Silent Hill come to mind), but there's just such an abundance of generic, or 'vanilla' horror out there. It's not that that kind of stuff isn't great, I just like to see something strive for a little more, stylistically speaking, go for something truly elemental and out of the box in its attempts to elicit fright. This one engraves nightmares of an inexplicable variety into your perception, images and sounds made all the more disturbing by the fact that we never really know what is going on with our protagonist, a Viet Nam vet named Jacob (Tim Robbins), a decent dude with a sketchy past who spends his days as a postal worker in NYC. Jacob is plagued by waking nightmares, visions of demons, confusing allusions to his past and a son (a pre Home Alone Macauley Culkin) who may have died, or never existed at all, all combined with a general sense of dread that almost seems to crawl out of the screen and choke the viewer. Jacob is dating a co worker (RIP Elizabeth Pena), who isn't equipped to deal with whatever is going on with him, and his only friend seems to be his doting chiropractor Louis, played by an excellent Danny Aiello in a performance that is a ray of kindness and light in an otherwise ice cold atmospheric palette. Jacob begins to suspect that he and his platoon may have been victims of illegal weapons gas testing, and are now suffering the psychological fallout, or perhaps that his plight goes much deeper than that. It's a disorienting state of mind for him, and in turn puts the viewer in a similar daze of eeriness and uncertainty, with not a concrete clue or answer in sight until the film reaches its devastating final moments. Ving Rhames, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Eriq La Salle and Matt Craven are just as haunted as his fellow Nam buddies, Jason Alexander has an energetic bit as a lawyer, and watch for Kyle Gass, Orson Bean and Lewis Black in early smaller roles. This film has put a hazy emotional and visual filter over my perception for years, and each time I give it another visit I get goosebumps from the horrors within, especially on a crisp recent blu Ray. There's one sequence in particular which I won't spoil with details, except to say it should be front and centre on the demo reel for the entire horror genre in cinema, a harrowing journey into a hellishly creative interzone of undefinable fear that still serves as the blueprint for some of my bad dreams to this day. A fright flick classic.
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Reigns Supreme
John Brooks19 May 2016
This is the ultimate film when it comes to a very specific style of cinema-thinking, a very definite and expansive use of cinema altogether in what it is and means to achieve. I'll write this review with no Spoiler at all, so I must be conservative with my commenting. This film is a scifi-ish, mystery-drama with tinges of horror. It explores the life of a Vietnam ex-solider who returns to mainstream life after suffering a particularly traumatic experience and attempts to put the pieces back together to understand why he is in such a state years later. The film explores human psychology through strong imagery, and cinematic expression, in ways that are all of frightening and vivid, subtle and emotional, and very intellectually stimulating. The story is perfectly constructed, the acting solid throughout, and it sets up the main character in exactly the right environment of a double life so that he and the viewer may discover and unravel the truth about it all bit by bit as the suspense grows and the anticipation for something huge to drop at the end rings with eagerness. And the ending is so, so dearly worth your time. One of the very top films I've ever watched; it is total-cinema, touching on all genres at once, and taking advantage of all available strengths. Supreme cinema.
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Flashback or Reality?
Predrag25 April 2016
This film is not like anything I have ever seen. It is a viscerally frightening film that kept me on the edge of my seat. Tim Robbins delivers a unique performance as Jacob, a Vietnam warrior who gets seriously wounded in combat and finds himself in a desperate struggle for life. And between life and death, heaven or hell, where does Jacob belong? That's something Jacob will have to find out for himself and that'll be the fight of his life.

Although the ending seems to be dark and ambiguous, I think the film proves to be intellectually and logically complete. If you see this movie merely as a hapless man's ordeal on physical world, you have missed the main point and I recommend to watch again: look beyond the visuals, don't think the events on a linear time scale and pay a strict attention (especially talking of Jacob's chiropractor, Dr. Louis) to the hints scattered throughout the movie.

Tim Robbins' performance is flawless and fascinating. Adrian Lyne directed the movie very well; the emotions and the tension that are aimed to be brought about are achieved quite successfully. One interesting fact about the movie is that when you watch it for the second time, you notice a lot of things, which you did not notice or could not make sense out of in the first place. Names, small incidents, conversations, even the advertisement in the downtown train take on a new meaning once you know what is really happening to Jacob Singer. I strongly recommend Jacob's Ladder to the people who like psychological thrillers and soft horror movies.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
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Jacob's Ladder
quinimdb16 April 2016
"Jacob's Ladder" is a very scary, surreal, and confusing film, and it's told entirely from the point of view of Jacob Singer, a man suffering from PTSD who begins to believe he's being pulled into hell by demons.

Or at least it is for most of the film. Since the film is told from the perspective of Jacob, you're along for the ride with him for all of the film. When Jacob is scared and confused, so are we, and throughout the film we don't know exactly what's real and whats in Jacob's mind - and neither does he. Is this is when the film is at its best. When "Jacob's Ladder" is at its best, it's surreal and terrifying and absolutely bizarre. For most of the film, the events were very ambiguous and what was reality and fiction - and what exactly was happening - was entirely up to the viewer. However, towards the end, the film gets less and less ambiguous, until literally all knots are perfectly tied up in the end. There are moments toward the end where things that are better left unexplained are literally directly explained to the viewer. They don't even try to suggest it, or leave hints to it in the film to be discovered in multiple viewings. Remember the scene in Psycho where the completely random man comes in in the second to last scene just to explain something that we could've figured out ourselves? This film practically does that for pretty much every mystery in the film, one in particular, and in this case it's even worse. I'm not saying every film needs to remain ambiguous, but this one in particular would've been so much more interesting if it was, because there could've been so many different interpretations of it, and for most of the film it was that way, which is why it's so baffling that they decided tie up all the knots towards the end.
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Interesting film. However, it tried to be too many things.
romail10022 November 2015
Jacob Singer is a Vietnam War veteran. He lives in New York city with his girlfriend (Elisabeth Pena) working as a post-office clerk. We learn also that he has two kids from a previous marriage, although nothing is revealed about his ex wife, namely if she is still around and if they still keep in touch because of the kids. He also has a PhD. The couple appears to go along well but certain things do not seem to fit in. Singer appears to 'see' certain ghost-like images and experiences delusional episodes. At some moment he is approached by a strange man and an old army colleague who hint that the army experimented with some untested chemical even to American soldiers during the war.

"Jacob's Ladder" is an interesting film, which however tries to be too many things at the time. For a big part of the film the tension was built towards conspiracy theories, nonetheless there was also an angle with strong supernatural elements that defied any logical explanation. That's not necessarily bad but such a contrast took away from the overall credibility of the movie.

Anyway, the film tried to balance between such possible scenarios and eventually ended with something that seemed like an easy way out. In any case, I enjoyed the movie's atmosphere but be aware that there are some loose ends. Danny Aiello's role is also to be noted, although I felt afterwards that his role was inserted not just to provide a meaningful resolution to the protagonist's struggle but also to explain things to us (the audience). A 7/10 from me.
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A harrowing journey made pointless by a final plot twist
moonspinner5522 October 2015
Tim Robbins excels as an ex-combat soldier who wanders around evil city streets, hounded by death and destruction, flashing back on an incident in early-'70s Vietnam wherein his Army troupe came under the influence of something man-made and horrific. Director Adrian Lyne revels in an austere style that is sleek but not always fashionable; the filmmaker puts pain and paranoia in a visually grandiose cinematic context which can be off-putting, especially when considering some of the twisted, unsettling images he foists at us. Robbins is used to good advantage; he's easy and grounded in his role (under the circumstances), and he's an interesting presence. Unfortunately, "Jacob's Ladder" is flamboyantly heavy-handed, a drama-cum-horror movie dragging exasperating loose ends behind it. Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin creates an anguished netherworld of nightmarish suffering--which Lyne hammers away at, sometimes tastelessly--but he betrays the audience in the end with a cold slap that renders the entire film nearly superfluous. ** from ****
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Some of Tim Robbins best work
smatysia4 October 2015
Some of Tim Robbins best work. He portrays the terror his character feels without overdoing it. The film has to do with the nature of reality. What is real, and what is not, and it goes very deep. This is often boring, but not in this one. Elizabeth Pena was also very good, and very beautiful as well. She seems to have passed away recently. Much too young. Some other familiar actors showing up include Ving Rhames, Eriq La Salle, Danny Aiello, Jason Alexander, S. Epatha Merkeson, and Macauley Culkin. Quite a cast, as it turned out. I give the movie high marks, as it kept my interest throughout, and the payoff at the end was quite powerful.
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Ghostly Undertaker
narcozesubtlelites2 September 2015
Iconic movie that I watched during my year as a masters student reading mysterious and mythical visual spirituality tombs from the depth of sociological catalogue. My teacher was an Irish sage who worked part-time as an undertaker. He came back from my past time via a weird sin. Sufi rituals and Buddhist Nirvana on a Hindu fest has resurrected my ashes that found hash, LSD, Russian Politics and eventually East London. The visual style of the film shot and distributed on tape is iconic. Iconic film. What a way for ex-consultant from German McKinsey. Try copy the tropes, but you will never get it right. Based on a purist novel.
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Jacob's Ladder
skybrick73627 July 2015
Jacob's Ladder is of those films that stick in your mind, hours, even days after the fact of watching it. There are many psychological horror films out there that are smart and have an executed story, but Jacob's Ladder is above them in many facets. The film implements a dreadful feeling right from the get-go, in which the film progressively gets more hopeless and sinister. The characters are tragic and bland in nature, all portraying people that are in desperate situations or stuck in a terrible rut. It's safe to say, that Tim Robbins and Elizabeth Pena exceeded any expectation in this movie, both being somewhat risky parts to play in their given roles.

The attention to detail in many of the demonic horror scenes is striking and gives a great opportunity to the viewer to re-watch and pick up something different. Throughout all of the film's scenes it's noticeable that the dialogue and script is carefully calculated, having very few plot-holes. The story constantly flips back and forth introducing new characters and time periods, becoming borderline confusing at parts. However, after multiple times watching the film and being comfortable with the film's direction and messages, it not too hard to understand after thinking about it. The ending came quick, leaving an unsatisfying taste during the credits but it's done very well. Jacob's Ladder is an essential watch and a gives great takes on life, worth and meaning.
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Very emotionally affecting, engaging to watch and quite profoundly sad
Christopher Reid17 January 2015
Jacob's Ladder is not a horror. It's really a drama with some aspects of a thriller. I didn't find it very scary. There are horrific moments but they're more about sadness and despair. We suspect from near the start that many of the things Jacob (Tim Robbins) sees are not real. They seem to be hallucinations. Which gives us an easy explanation with which to dismiss anything we don't understand: he's crazy. But naturally, the plot thickens. He wants to know what caused his situation, why is he like this? He's a Vietnam veteran but his memories seem incomplete. Something horrible happened when he was there and maybe due to shock he's blocked out some of the details, we aren't sure.

Although the film could certainly be interpreted in different and interesting ways, I feel like it's quite clear what was going on by the end. Before writing this review I felt compelled to write in detail what my logical interpretation of the movie was, to get it clear and understand it properly. I'm sure it will stay in my mind and evolve over time. It touches on surreal, intense ideas. It may possibly be extremely realistic.

There are times when you could become frustrated watching a movie like this. The writer/director can do whatever they want, tease and taunt you and while you hope it'll make sense by the end, it very well might not. You begin to wonder when you'll get some answers and when the whole point of it is going to sink in. But with Jacob's Ladder, we have a constant throughout: we feel the same way as Jacob. There are emotions to connect with the whole time. He is perhaps suffering from PTSD, but it doesn't matter. He's seems alive and sane but something horrible is happening to him. That's the worst thing about illnesses sometimes is not knowing what caused them or whether they will improve or not.

The ending really impacted on me. Everything began to fit together and make sense. Everything had an explanation. It was moving and sad and shocking. A few of these weird semi-horror movies like The Wicker Man and this just make me want to hug and comfort the main character so much. Their pain is heart-breaking. But in that way it makes you feel less alone. Whatever suffering you go through, you can always remember these characters and feel a deep connection.

There are interesting connections to the bible including several character names (Jacob, Jezzabel, Eli and Gabe) and references to demons and angels (and visions of them). The writer apparently was interested in Buddhism and there is an idea of letting things go. By carrying painful memories, you increase your suffering. You can't change them but you can move on and maybe find new happy experiences. Death is a bit of a theme throughout as well. It reminds me of the samurai code where you accept your inevitable death and progress from there. You will notice also that Jacob is often seen lying down, maybe mirroring the fact that he seems to be having a never-ending nightmare.
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Confusing and Complicated but still worth watching !
someonesmart217 January 2015
Finally I watched the movie, this movie has a big cult following and it's one the movies that you have to watch twice for better understanding. So about the movie this movie grips you from the beginning and hold you tight on your seat. The main character of the movie is Jacob ( the title refers to him ) Vietnam war veteran and mourning for his child. The thing is that you view this movie from the Jacobs perspective you really don't what's going on. As the movie passes Jacob realizes that things are different and are changing dramatically or in other words going more complicated.

The thing I don't like is that I'd left with a lot of questions and after watching it I'd to read a lot from different sources. This movie is a combination of mystery and thriller, the events changes so quickly that you're left confused but I guess the plot is revealed in the end.

There are also some bizarre scenes in this movie which I found rather disturbing anyways if you're looking for a movie that completely requires your attention so this is the one.
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A complex spiritual journey.
JÄnis Locis9 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is absolutely amazing, has a complex plot and throughout all of it you keep thinking about the possible explanation, then all of a sudden the next scene comes around and your expectations about the possible outcome are shredded to pieces, a very great movie if you like to really deeply understand a plot of the movie and think about it a lot. The ending was great, nothing too fancy, but you could see Jaccob finding the end of his spiritual journey and finally spiritually accepting his death in Vietnam, now he can finally move on from wandering around the world and rest in piece. The idea of having these two ladies in his life, one being his former wife and other his current girlfriend was an interesting add-on as well, hence until the end of the movie it kept you thinking - maybe all of the events are only a dream and he really is together with Sarah right now, but in a coma, because of his son's death? Only at the viewers get a clarification and can if not fully then at least somewhat understand the movie.
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