HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:81
It’s kind of a weird time of year for horror releases since most people think of December/January being a sort of upbeat holiday season, but all those Halloween theatrical releases have to come out sometime and we’ve got a nice handful this season, starting out with “Horns”, moving on to “Jessabelle” and following up with “Annabelle” next week. “Jessabelle” almost slipped under my radar, as I don’t remember even seeing it pop up in the theaters around me, but the trailer had me intrigued as I really love the supernatural ghost stories. Your intrepid reviewer popped the disc in and after about 20 minutes realized that I’d seen the movie before. Actually I’d seen the movie about a dozen times, just with a dozen different titles all following the same generic plotline.
Jessabelle suffers a tragic accident within minutes of the movie starting. Involved in a car accident she’s severely injured and confined to a wheelchair temporarily. Calling her estranged father to come pick her up since she has no one else to care for her, Jessie is forced to move back to the swamps of Louisiana where she has to come to regain her strength and move on. Feeling a little out of place she finds some VHS tapes made back before her birth with her name on them. Watching them she sees her mother creating little time capsules for her baby girl and even goes so far as to do a tarot card reading on her unborn child. That’s where the tapes go south as the rest is filled with predictions of a horrifying fate. Disturbed by the tapes, Jessie starts having nightmares and visions of an unwanted presence in the home. Strange things start to happen, including being attacked by this alternate version of herself as well as the death of her father in the blink of an eye.
Teaming up with her childhood sweetheart, Jessie starts to trace a line back through history, finding the people who knew her parents and finding out just what happened all those years ago. This leads them to a grave marked “Jessabelle”, with her birthdate inscribed upon the tombstone. Opening it up, the pair finds more questions and those questions lead to an even more disturbing answer. An answer that leaves Jessabelle wishing she had never started asking those questions.
“Jessabelle” follows the beaten path of many a supernatural ghost film before it. There’s nothing inherently WRONG with the direction, or the scares, it’s just that we’ve seen it so many times in the past. We have the curious girl, the evil specter, the mission to find out what happened to said spirit etc etc. Jessie and her path through the horror maze is uninspired rather than bad. Had I not seen the same things over and over throughout the years I would rank it a bit higher, but at the moment I would have to say it makes decent rental material. I felt as if I could predict the next step of the movie before it even happened because of the path being so well beaten by dozens of other horror flicks and that diminished my enjoyment of the movie.
With that being said, there is still some great points to the movie. The twist with the videotapes (I won’t tell you what the twist was, but even though it was SEME predictable, there was still enough of a twist that I actually was impressed) made me tip my hat to the writers as it had enough of a spark of cleverness to it to make me smile. Secondly, the Louisiana countryside is spot on perfect for these types of horror movies. The voodoo history from the Creole culture is steeped in mysticism and the watery swamp lands lend itself to a creepy ambiance. While I may not have loved or even really liked “Jessabelle”, I have to say it was entertaining enough for something that has been filmed a million times and the ending alone was worth the watch.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence and terror
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36545[/img]“Jessabelle” comes to home video with a stellar looking 1.78:1 AVC encoded disc for us to enjoy this New Year. Despite its low budget the end result on the disc looks fabulous with lots of deep bayou greens and browns and blues to saturate the screen. Louisiana is a beautiful place and the lush colors give the place a backwoods homey feel to the movie, although soon to be replaced with just downright creepy after the first 20 minutes. Black levels are deep and inky, allowing the bayou to looks wonderfully detailed, even amongst the darkest southern nights. Fine detail abounds in the daylight as well, as the bright natural sunlight allows for exceptional clarity. The leafy foliage of the area shows off the wonderful attention to detail and the clothing on Jessabelle shows every wrinkle, fold and seam of the fabric. Simply put, the movie is eye candy and showcases just how good a horror movie can look, even amongst the darkness and shadows that dominate the genre.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36553[/img]Horror movies thrive off of aggressive tracks and “Jessabelle” certainly takes its cues from that way of thinking. The movie is full of jump scares and gleefully pounds the lfe in your face every time something jumps out and goes “boo”. A throbbing low end dominates the entire film, pressing down on you with a sense of foreboding and ominous dread throughout the film, but still allows the track to be filled with a surprising amount of auditory nuances. The Louisiana countryside is filled with chirping crickets, the rustling of leaves in the wind and the creaking of old boards in a decades old house. Each one is replicated beautifully from the in your face noises of a slamming door to the soft rustle that leaves make rubbing against each other in the breeze. Dialogue is great, locked firmly in the center channel and balanced well with the rest of the audio. Surround usage is a bit lighter that I may have liked, but only by a very little bit, as the sides certainly get their fair shake on the dance floor.
• Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Greutert, Writer Robert Ben Garant and Executive Producer Jerry P. Jacobs
• Jessabelle: Deep in the Bayou Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Extended Ending
“Jessabelle” suffers from following the beaten path a bit too much for the majority of the 90 minute runtime, but the final ending had enough of a clever twist for me to tip my hat at the direction it took. It wasn’t as scary as I would have liked, as the spirit didn’t show itself enough for the jump scares to truly be effective, but it certainly was creepy enough for my skin to crawl a few times during the film. The technical specifications are great, and the movie even comes with some very solid extras to round out the package. Personally I’d keep this as a rental and recommend it as such.
Starring: Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter
Directed by: Kevin Greutert
Written by: Robert Ben Garant
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 13th 2015
Buy Jessabelle Blu-ray on Amazon
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