Adrian Lyne (Britain, 1941) debuted with a film about Los Angeles teen girls,
Flashdance (1983) is a romantic comedy.
9 1/2 Weeks (1986) is the first and most morbid of his erotic thrillers.
Fatal Attraction (1987) is the most famous of his erotic thrillers.
Jacob's Ladder (1990) is a puzzle supernatural thriller that at the end
reveals the simplest of all possible explanations.
Jacob is a soldier in Vietnam. We see a bloody battle and he gets
soldiers shaken by seizures. Jacob is stabbed in the jungle and collapses.
The film suddenly shifts to a subway train. Jacob has fallen asleep in
an empty car. He fears he has missed his stop and jumps out of the train
at the next station, especially since he is scared by a homeless man sleeping
on the floor of the train hiding a snake-like animal.
Jacob finds himself in a station that is locked. He can't get out and is
almost killed by the next train.
He finally gets hom to his sexy girlfriend Jezebel.
In the morning Jezebel gives him a package that has been delivered for him.
It contains old pictures of his family life: he is divorced and his little
son Gabe died before the war.
Jezebel doesn't like that the pictures make him cry and burns them.
Jacob has nightmares about the battle in which he almost died.
Jacob has a mailman and Jezebel works in the same post office.
Jacob also sees a chiropractor, Louis, for some back pain.
During the session he has again a vision of the battle in Vietnam.
On the way home he is suddenly attacked by mysterious people in a car
who try to run him over. A mysterious man helps him and he escapes by miracle.
He then visits the hospital for veterans where he has been a patient for
years but they have no records of him every being there and his doctor
does not exist. Jacob forces his way into the psychiatric section and a doctor tells him that his old doctor (obviously a psychologist) has died in a car accident: the car exploded.
Jacob and Jezebel attend a party where a fortune teller reads his palm and
determines that he is dead.
Minutes later he has visions of vultures, of a man whose head spins, and of a giant snake that enters Jezebel's body, and collapses catatonic.
A flashback shows us the soldiers who found him agonizing in Vietnam.
Jacob wakes up at home with a very high fever. Jezebel calls the doctor
who tells her to get him in a tub full of ice. All the neighbors help her
carry Jacob in the tub and pour ice in the tub.
A sudden change of environment shows up Jacob waking up in a nice apartment (not the lousy one where he lives with Jezebel), next to his wife Sara.
We see their three sons, including Gabe, the one who died before the war.
Then the scene changes again and we're in the bathroom: Jacob survived the
fever and wakes up next to a doctor and Jezebel. He closes his eyes and we
see the soldiers who found alive him in the jungle and transported him away:
one of them looks like the mysterious man.
The following morning
Jezebel tells him that he was talking in his dreams about Sara and the children.
Jacob thinks that he is seeing demons who want to take him to hell, and starts reading books on demons.
At one point he even suspects that Jezebel is a demon.
Out of the blue Paul calls him. Paul was one of the soldiers in his unit,
another survivor. They meet in a bar. Paul tells him that he is been stalked by demons and fears that he is going to hell. Jacob tells him that he is having
the same visions. The mysterious man is watching them. They walk outside,
Paul starts his car and the car explodes. The mysterious man drags Jacob away
just in time and then leaves.
At Paul's funeral Jacob is reunited with other members of his old unit.
When Jacob mentions that Paul was having visions of demons, all the others
except one confess that they too are having the same hallucinations.
They come to suspect that they are the victims of a military experiment gone wrong and contact a lawyer. The lawyer is initially reluctant to take up a case based on visions, but then accepts.
The following day, however, the lawyer leaves a message that he is quitting the case because the others recanted.
Jacob calls one of his buddies and he confirms that he's pulling out, afraid of something.
Jacob rushes to meet the lawyer in person. The lawyer, annoyed, tells him that they are
a bunch of scammers: military files show that they never went to Vietnam.
Outside the court he is kidnapped by three men.
He fights and manages to jump out of the car. He falls near a Santa Claus
who simply steals his wallet.
He is taken to a hospital but soon he realizes that it is not a real hospital.
It is a run-down building full of crazy patients. Some rooms are used for
torture. There are body parts and blood on the floors. He is taken to a
surgery room. Jezebel is one of the nurses assisting the doctors.
They tell him that he is dead. A doctor with no eyes
injects something in his forehead.
Jacob wakes up in a real hospital. His wife Sara and his children are visiting him.
Louis, his chiropractor, walks into the hospital shouting and, ignoring the
nurses who want to stop him, enters Jacob's room (Sara and the children are not there, making us believe that this is another hospital) and helps him to
a wheelchair. Then Louis carries Jacob out and takes him to his studio where
a few more expert moves restore Jacob's ability to walk.
This makes us believe that this happened after Jacob returned paralyzed from Vietnam.
Then Jacob is in Jezebel's humble apartment and opens a box full of pictures.
He remembers how his son Gabe died in front of him, run over by a car.
Jezebel comes home and finds him at home and tells him that he has been gone for two days.
He mumbles that he has been at the hospital.
Someone calls saying that he worked for a top-secret military lab in Vietnam
and wants to talk to him.
Jezebel begs him not to go. Jacob goes and meets the mysterious man, Michael,
who has been showing up at different times. Michael tells him that he has been
following him and wanted to confess what he did in the war.
Michael was in charge of an experiment that produced a drug called "ladder"
that was meant to make soldiers more ferocious. It was first tested on
Jacob's unit. It was so successful that... the soldiers started shooting
each other. The battle was not a battle: Jacob and his friends killed each other. Jacob is the only survivor. (So the ones he met at the funeral were alive only in his imagination).
Jacob takes a taxi and asks to be taken home. During the trip he finally remembers who stabbed him: it was a fellow soldier. The taxi drops him off at a fancy
building, not where he lives with Jezebel. A doorman opens the door for him
mentioning that they haven't seen him in a long time. We realize that he is
entering Sara's home. Nobody is home. He has memories of happy family life.
Then his dead son Gabe appears and the child takes Jacob up some stairs.
The scene changes to Vietnam. Jacob dies in a camp hospital.
So the whole film was just the last confused dream of a dying soldier,
who was still feeling guilty for the death of his son and who couldn't explain
why he had been stabbed by his own fellow soldiers.
Indecent Proposal (1993) is an adaptation of Jack Engelhard's 1988 novel.
Lolita (1997) is a remake of the film based on Nabokov's 1955 novel.
Unfaithful (2002) is a remake of Claude Chabrol's thriller The Unfaithful Wife (1969).
Deep Water (2022) is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1957 novel.