Jessabelle is plain and simply an unintentionally funny flick propped up primarily thanks to its star, Sarah Snoot who hopefully can find some better material as she wasn’t that bad making the film at least tolerable.
Genre(s): Horror, Supernatural
Lionsgate | PG13 – 90 min. – $19.99 | January 13, 2015
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
Note: This review contains spoilers about the plot. Please skip if you don’t want to learn any story details.
I don’t like supernatural horror flicks, so let me get that out of the way right off the bat; outside of The Ring (remake) The Exorcist, Poltergeist and even portions of Deliver Us From Evil. Well, another one that came out in 2014 was Jessabelle a horror flick with very few actual scares and just an all around stupid plot culminating with a finale reminiscent of The Skeleton Key.
The plot opens with a young woman named Jessie (SARAH SNOOK) who is about to move in with her boyfriend when their pickup is sideswiped by a semi killing the boyfriend and their unborn she is carrying. She awakens in the hospital with severe damage to her legs which will take months of therapy to recuperate and she’s forced to call her estranged father (DAVID ANDREWS) as her mother died of cancer when she was younger.
Jessie moves back in to her childhood home in her small Louisiana town that she thought she left far behind after going to college. Back home, she settles in to her mother’s old bedroom on the first floor and must adjust her lifestyle especially with her intense and alcoholic father. It doesn’t take long when one night she thinks she sees some kind of entity sitting in her wheelchair outside her bed. Spooky but hardly scary. Meanwhile, as she blows that off as being in her mind, Jessie discovers a box underneath the bed with VHS tapes and upon watching one, finds her mother giving a tarot reading with ominous findings.
After one of the first unintentionally funny moments in this film, in which Jessie’s father is killed, Jessie receives a visit from old high school friend named Preston (MARK WEBBER) who, despite being married, is more than happy to give a helping hand. However, with this helping hand, Jessie’s drags poor Preston into the mystery surrounding her birth and even deeper when, further on the property, they discover a grave with her birth date and underneath a casket with an infant remains.
Add in a little voodoo, bayou swamps and some tax breaks (though no gumbo in sight) and you get the gist..
Jessabelle is one of the funnier horror films I’ve come across in quite some time and after looking into the credits of screenwriter Robert Ben Garant, I began to question whether or not it was unintentional having written 80+ episodes on “Reno 911” not to mention the 2013 spoof supernatural horror flick, Hell Baby which wasn’t half bad, though it did wear quite thin. In any case, the writing in this wasn’t the best and heavily borrows from other supernatural-horror-thrillers.
On the plus side, I will say the cast is mostly good starting with Sarah Snook, an Australian transplant who really elevates the script and plot from being unbearably hilarious to merely amusing in its ridiculousness. For her part, Snook looks good and actually makes for a sympathetic character for which you care about her wellbeing; hopefully she gets a chance with some better material. Another highlight is Mark Webber who does a fair job with not very much to work with.
The film was helmed by Kevin Greutert, a name horror fans might be familiar with having directed Saw VI and Saw 3D to go along with his editing efforts that included Saw I-V and The Collection. Not a bad horror career I suppose and at least Greutert presents a spooky enough atmosphere even if the script doesn’t provide for many scares, heck even the jump scares were sparse.
All in all, Jessabelle, originally scheduled for a limited release back in November, is yet another in a number of supernatural-thrillers and outside of Sarah Snook, it’s just a forgettable entry at that. However, I suppose if you enjoy the genre, it might be worth a rental.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital Copy (UltraViolet only).
Audio Commentary – Director Kevin Greutert, Writer Robert Ben Garant and Executive Producer Jerry P. Jacobs provide a low key but quite informative track and when you have three participants, you get a variety of information.
Jessabelle: Deep in the Bayou (9:14; HD) – This is a basic behind-the-scenes featurette with some on-set interviews with the cast and crew as they talk about the characters and story.
Deleted Scenes (7:48; HD) – Here we get a few scenes, some B-roll footage and just some additional footage that added very little to the overall film.
Outtakes (2:39; HD) include some flubbed/forgotten lines and other on-set antics.
Extended Ending (1:11; HD) – This one is a bit longer, with one line difference, but they wanted to go with a more jarring ending.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Jessabelle creeps onto Blu-ray presented with a 1080p high-definition transfer and a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio. For the most part, this is a good looking picture with bright colors during the daytime scenes and stark blacks for the darker scenes. The close-up shots do look nice and sharp but I did notice some of the more distant shots do appear a bit pixilated but nothing terrible or distracting unless you are closely inspecting it.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The film has been given an effective albeit limited 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Dialogue levels are crisp and clear, Anton Sanko’s (The Devil’s Hand, Ouija) score provides for some of the depth but everything else is more or less centrally located. The front and rear channels, along with minor elements of the LFE, do kick in with those “scare” moments but otherwise it’s not quite a dynamic track but at least an efficient one.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, Jessabelle is plain and simply an unintentionally funny flick propped up primarily thanks to its star, Sarah Snoot who hopefully can find some better material as she wasn’t that bad making the film at least tolerable. The Blu-ray released by Lionsgate offers up good video/audio transfers while the bonus material, outside of the commentary track, was throwaway material.