Is it possible to be living in Hell without even realizing it?  

A disassociated war veteran, Jacob Singer, would argue that it isn’t.  Nevertheless, the world around
him grows dark.  He is targeted by malevolent spirits.

Released in 1990 and directed by Adrian Lyne, "Jacob’s Ladder" is a mystery thriller that will make you
appreciate what it means to be alive.  It will make you ponder the limits of the human psyche, your own
reality and acceptance of death.

I’m the Haunting Usher.  Let me scare you to your seat.  

The film opens a Pandora’s Box of human conflict.  Jacob Singer mourns the death of his son.  He
suffers from the after effects of the Ladder, a bizarre experiment meant to accelerate primal rage in
battalions during the Vietnam War.  

Jake searches desperately to uncover the truth about what happened to him in combat and yet the truth
is the one thing he cannot see.   

A military cover up and mysteries of mortality may sound like a jumbled premise, an abstract contrast.  
Crosscutting dreams between the past and present interspersed with PTSD flashbacks can be
confusing.

An unsettling tone, graphic imagery and emotional depths are interwoven to deliver a gritty tale of loss
and disillusionment.   

The film touches lightly on spiritual philosophy.  A benevolent but eccentric chiropractor, Louie, played
by Danny Aiello, is Jake’s angel, his “overgrown cherub.”  Not only does Louie heal Jake physically, but
he quotes the author of The Power Of Now and A New Earth.  By quoting Eckhart, Louie illuminates
universal truths about what is actually happening.  “If you’re frightened of dying…and you’re holding on,
you’ll see devils tearing your life away.”

Those devils haunt Jake’s waking hours.  They hunt him.  
Simplistic special effects and cinematography in the early nineties make the entities extraordinarily
disturbing.

“They weren’t human.”  Jake tells his girlfriend Jezzie..  “They were creatures.”  

“Jake,” she replies, “New York is filled with creatures.”

Denial is featured heavily in Jacob’s Ladder.  Jake refuses to grasp reality. Horrors surrounding him
become more threatening.  He descends into madness.
“The only thing that burns in hell,” Louie quotes to Jake yet again, “is the part of you that won’t let go of
your life, your memories and your attachments.  If you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really
angels freeing you from the earth.”

Will Jake ever learn to accept reality?  Will he ever let go?

Director Adrian Lyne conveys a profound message in "Jacob’s Ladder."  One should embrace what
matters most in life.  Yet when the time comes to say goodbye, do not fight the inevitable..  Do not cling
too tightly to the things that are dearest to you.  You will only turn it into something unnatural.

I’m the Haunting Usher.  Let me scare you toward the Pearly Gates.

Do you agree with my review?  What universal truths do you find difficult to accept?  

Let me know in the comments section.
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