Over the last 19 years, Director Adrian Lyne’s 1990 art house psychological thriller Jacob’s Ladder has garnered a strong cult following for its unusual camera work, surreal nightmarish visions, and infamous twist ending. So it was a bit surprising to learn a few years ago that a remake was in the offing. Judging by the first trailer, this reboot is more of a re-imagining, preserving some of the original elements while offering a fresh twist ending.
The original Jacob’s Ladder, released in 1990, starred Tim Robbins as Vietnam medic Jacob Singer, whose unit is attacked in 1971. Watching his comrades fall, Jacob flees into the jungle and gets a bayonet in the stomach for his trouble. He awakens in a New York City subway, and finds he’s now living in Brooklyn with his girlfriend, with no memory of how he got there. But he is increasingly haunted by terrible hallucinations, sudden onset high fevers, and occasionally finds himself in an alternate reality with his first wife and young son, Gabe, who’d been killed in an accident before the war. Is it side effects from an experimental army drug known as “the Ladder,” or something more sinister and supernatural?
The 2019 remake is intended to be more of an homage, bringing the story into a contemporary setting with fresh characters, and similar themes. Per the official synopsis, “After losing his brother in combat, Jacob Singer returns home from Afghanistan—only to be pulled into a mind-twisting state of paranoia. Singer soon realizes that his sibling is alive but life is not what it seems.”