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Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 48 Ratings

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  • Starring:
  • Summary: The life of a traumatized Vietnam vet. begins to unravel as the line between reality and nightmarish visions becomes blurred.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 20
  2. Negative: 3 out of 20
  1. Jacob's Ladder is also undeniably spooky. It creates and maintains a mood of paranoia, its special visual effects are original and nightmarish, and it has at least three sequences as haunting as anything I've seen in some time. [2 Nov 1990, p.9]
  2. The ending of Jacob's Ladder, when it finally arrives, is, like much of the film, both quaint and devastating.
  3. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    88
    Truly frightening and visually unique, this messy, challenging film is anchored by Tim Robbins' remarkable performance.
  4. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    60
    Despite all the confusion, it's a simple case of the script being too ambitious. It may emulate a man experiencing flashbacks, but it doesn't help the audience.
  5. If you ask too many questions about Jacob's Ladder, you're likely to burst the bubble. For all its emotional sizzle and spit, it leaves you hanging. Yet the ride to Lyne's middle-of-nowhere is almost worth it. [2 Nov 1990, p.E1]
  6. As a metaphysical exploration of otherworldliness, Jacob's Ladder has a kind of morbid intensity, for those who like that sort of thing. The picture flounders, however, with its insistence on injecting a little politics into the paranormal brew. [1Nov 1990, p.A20]
  7. 30
    Here, Lyne indulges more in misdirection than in direction; he's a magician turning a sleazy trick. But even his technical skill breaks down. The picture is garbled and cliched.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. JohnL.
    Jun 24, 2007
    10
    I was freaked-out by this film when I originally saw it at an advanced screening, and I have enjoyed it more and more on repeat viewings. A brilliant examination of redemption and love, death and forgiveness. Tim Robbins gives a brave and uncompromising performance! Expand
  2. Jun 21, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. If you think its about flashback caused by the war YOU ARE WRONG! If you think this movie is about paranoia, YOU ARE WRONG ! The movie is about the human mind ! the story examines the undetermined mystery of death. in my opinion jacob's ladder was the prototype for movies like "the matrix", "stay" or "the 13th floor".
    If you are searching for an simple horror movie or thriller then you you shouldn't watch jacob's ladder. The movie is even more complex than the most of you might think. Plz don't rate this movie if you don't get the (real) conclusion.
    Expand
  3. Apr 3, 2013
    10
    One of the few psychological horror films I've seen done really well. It's not your traditional kind of horror movie where the emphasis is on jump scares and freaking you out with gory imagery, though those things are present. This one follows a war veteran as his deeply rooted trauma slowly takes hold of him after returning home. I don't wanna spoil anything though as the plot takes a lot of twists and dips. See it. Expand
  4. Apr 1, 2013
    8
    I'm going to be honest. I watch scary movies so I can make of them with my brother. Scary movies ought to be the most mind numbing and predictable genre out there, save for the jock action movie's where the script is replaced by explosions, lens flare, jets, grunting and sparks. But when we started watching this movie, right from the get go we knew we chose the wrong movie. I don't want to ruin the movie but here are a few things I liked about it. The movie helps you understand and sympathize with the protagonist suffering from PTSD, almost being able to justify his outbursts while at the same time remembering that he indeed is crazy. There are plenty of scares in this movie that will make you stop the movie or glance at your partner and say "...Man...That..was F****ED UP! WHAT THE FU**!". There are quiet a few scenes that will be branded into your memory for a long time to come, unlike other forgettable movies. This movie won't be one to leave you traumatized or anything but it will for sure be worth your time. Turn up the volume by the way because dialogue can be a little recessed. Oh and grab some food. I'm definably going to watch this movie again (something I RARELY ever do) with my friends. Expand
  5. Mar 23, 2013
    7
    Thanks to a decidedly brilliant script from Bruce Joel Rubin and an agonizing performance from Tim Robbins, "Jacob's Ladder" manages to be one of the few chiller movies I've ever seen that actually pulls off a fulfilling ending. Expand
  6. Feb 28, 2014
    7
    Wow, so my brain is mush. Right when you think it cannot get weirder, it absolutely shocks you and does exactly that. One of the things this film does really film is not just confuse you, but make you feel as though you are experiencing what Jacob is experiencing. The bizzare things he sees suddenly effect you as though it is happening to you. I also really loved the religious imagery and how it ties into the film so neatly and adds a true metaphysical spin to this story. This is undoubtedly one that you will have to watch twice to truly understand and see all the signs pointing to the ending. I always thought that films such as A Clockwork Orange or Requiem for a Dream would be the most jarring and flat out...just what films I would ever watch, but no, this one takes the crown. It is also a tough one to write a review on since I do not want to give anything away. Just make sure that if you have time and the opportunity is presented that you watch this one. It will mess with you in ways you never anticipated.

    One complaint I have is that it sort of went over the top at times. Once you know what angle they were trying to play, some scenes almost feel as though they are excess with the sole goal of further terrifying the viewer and not necessarily progressing much.
    Expand
  7. Aug 27, 2010
    7
    A surprisingly effective atmospheric thriller whose visual artistry has influenced the horror genre both in movies (Asian horror) and video games (Silent Hill, definitely). Still, the pacing of the movie is a bit off, as there are parts that I felt could have been left out, and I didn't think Tim Robbins was a good choice for the role. On top of that, I pretty much predicted the ending before even watching, but luckily the director was smart enough not to make it a blatant twist, but rather braces the viewer for the revelation, suggesting it throughout the movie (a rare case for thrillers) Also, wtf - Jason Alexander and Macauly Culkin? Expand

See all 8 User Reviews

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