Starring Helen Holman, Diane Rimmer, Luis James Farouk
Directed by Angie Bojtler
Angie Bojtler tackles an emotional piece with the feature length debut, Jacob’s Hammer. The film has some good ideas and Bojtler attempts to flesh those ideas out for viewers around the globe. The problem is, Angie lacks the funds to make the movie she’s so desperately trying to make. But even beyond the fiscal limitations the picture faces, the effectiveness, or lack thereof, really suffocates the flames before the fire comes to life. Assessing the picture on a technical level, you really do begin to chisel away at every aspect of the film, from special effects to editing to cinematography, the movie just howls of inexperience and the apparent absence of any extensive schooling.
Before we tear through the film and sort out the good and bad, we’ll give you an idea of what to expect from the story. Sadie is a single mother who’s terrified that her son may be something more than your average boy. This kid seems to be evil, even worse, it certainly looks as though he’s acquired a very intense thirst for blood. He just wants to bash craniums with his hammer. That’s really about the whole of it all. Can Sadie get down to the bottom of things? Is her son, the titular Jacob, even capable of changing his ways and ditching the let’s play homicidal maniac routine? Maybe the best question is, how many will have to die before Jacob’s murderous ways are truly done away with?
It doesn’t take but five minutes before we understand that we’re watching a micro-film. It takes perhaps 10 before we see that the editing job is a serious mess. 25 minutes in and the wheels are spinning as you’re likely putting the pieces together and solving the surprise twist long before it even arrives. There are lighting problems, especially noticeable when you get a direct shift from internal to external, or vice versa. The transitions are just abysmal. It’s an amateur film, and that’s really all there is to it.
If Bojtler hopes to stick around in this business, there’s some major work that needs to be done. In fact, at this point I’d say the best possible thing that could happen to Bojtler would be to find a strong, established talent who is game to mentor a hungry young filmmaker. That’s likely the best route to success at this point. Schooling would obviously be beneficial, but I think a lot of filmmakers that shoot a feature length or two are hesitant to take a few steps in reverse in order to learn fundamentals that would have helped out of the gate. I’ve encountered more than a single filmmaker with a few credits under their belt who need mechanical refinement, but they’re of the opinion that moving forward and producing better work is the only way to go. Personally, I think that’s a combination of pride and fear. Bojtler would be wise to swallow both.
Despite the ruggedness of the production there are a few promising points. Female lead Helen Holman needs some real direction before she’s slaying roles, but there’s hope for her. Although her character, Sadie seems entirely disconnected from her son, which is essentially the opposite of what she speaks, she clearly has the promise and raw talent to turn things around. And about that disconnection, that’s a misfire that could be appropriately remedied with a director providing the necessary guidance in the necessary moments, in order to really clarify the emotional shifts and cues. However the sound limitations are going to make that a challenge. You can’t be shouting out any orders if there isn’t going to be any separate audio tracks to later mute and raise, adjust and EQ. Sound requires a lot of work, equipment, a good ear and a lot experience on the boards.
Sometimes people don’t realize that. Sometimes people think a small space will work just fine without any mic’ing up, or boom – it just doesn’t work that way, and cutting corners in the sound department is often the greatest misfire from micro movies.
Another thing about the film that I enjoyed was the insistence on shooting a fair number of exterior scenes. There are some awe inspiring locations in the UK, and, depending where you are, there’s an awful lot of green to admire. Jacob’s Hammer gives us a lot of fine scenic imagery, ultimately only robbing us of the much-needed aerial looks. Sharpening of the editing, and adding a couple aerials and you’ve got a picture that looks and feels very different.
Jacob’s Hammer feels far too one-note to enjoy it on any deep level. There’s no change in the momentum to stimulate us, there’s not much in the way of a score, which can be a strengthening element of film, but in this instance isn’t. Jacob’s Hammer is also a lot uglier than it needs to be. And it all comes down to the wrongdoings of a director with big aspirations and empty pockets. Two changes, two adjustments – those being the additions of a true veteran cinematographer and an insightful editor – and Jacob’s Hammer is a disconcerting film that tugs your psyche in a dozen different directions. Here’s hoping Angie Bojtler identifies and takes the steps required to ensure the same mistakes aren’t made again in this future.