Vampire Owl :: Are you sure that this isn’t related to Annabelle? There is not even a distant relationship that you know about?
Vampire Bat :: Not at all. There is just the name which ends in the same way. There is no relationship with The Conjuring either.
Vampire Owl :: I know many people who thought that they were related, and there are some who thought that there was another doll of the same kind.
Vampire Bat :: We, the people of the horror, shouldn’t fall into such rumors. But the similarity in the name might have attracted more viewers.
Vampire Owl :: Yes, I know. But I just believed that for some time.
Vampire Bat :: We could actually go for it in the name of some nice sequences which are there in the trailer. The poster is quite interesting
Vampire Owl :: And also after looking at the producer’s long list of horror filmography.
Vampire Bat :: Yes, that too. But nothing in the name of Annabelle which is not related at all.
Vampire Owl :: Let it be so then! We shall take on this ghost too.
Vampire Bat :: Okay, now we can proceed for the movie. Keep your mind open for more horror.
[Gets a cup of tea with chocolate chip cookies].
What is it about? :: Jessabelle Laurent (Sarah Snook) and her boyfriend has an accident with their car hit by a truck just before they decide to start a new life together. The pregnant Jessabelle has miscarriage and her lover is dead in the accident, with her limited to a wheel-chair. A few months later, she decides to go and live with her father Leon (David Andrews) at a small town of St Francis as he agrees to pick her up from the hospital. It has been a long time since she last saw her father, as she was raised by her aunt after her mother died of cancer when she was a baby. He takes her to their old home, and provides her with the room of her mother which was kept locked for many years. She doesn’t remember anything about her childhood, and she decides to look around the old house and the beautiful surroundings on her wheel-chair.
So what happens at this new place far away from the city? :: Jessabelle is not a person who will keep herself on the bed all the time. For passing time, she finds some videotapes shot by her mother. She decides to watch them and know more about her mother whom she never met as a kid. Even though, the tapes begin nicely with words of motherly love, it soon gets weird with talks about death, transition to something else and the feeling of a certain presence in the house. Leon says that her mother was getting weird and not herself in the final stages of cancer as he tries his best to stop her from watching these tapes, but as he tries to burn them, gets burnt himself inside the shed. She also has regular nightmares, and feels the presence of something in the house. With her father dead, it is only her old friend Preston Sanders (Mark Webber) who is left with her for help.
The defence of Jessabelle :: There are scary moments in Jessabelle and there is creepiness, even when not fully utilized. The environment contributes to that feeling, and this is done by keeping blood and gore to the minimum. Coming from the director of two movies of the Saw franchise, that might be a surprise for some people. The bath-tub scene is the best one, even though that too could have been better. But the movie manages to maintain a certain mood, not trying to bring anything huge – not a big attempt here at all. The final revelation is a fine one, and the twist is something which can be rather easily guessed only for those who have watched many horror movies. But it keeps us guessing until the movie reaches the final stages. It often becomes a mystery thriller instead of a full horror movie, and there is even some drama – it also works as part of another genre which makes up for what is missed out with the horror side.
Claws of flaw :: There is no denying the fact that this movie has its own dose of cliches. There are moments of such horror which have already been tried, and the story itself reminds oneself of the Kate Hudson starrer movie, The Skeleton Key – especially with the ending; but the difference here being the use of Voodoo while it was Hoodoo in that horror movie which came earlier. The chances of you liking this movie if you liked that one is high, but there will be some repetition associated with this in the final moments. There is also a certain amount of slow movement in the case of Jessabelle, and more horror could have been brought here especially while using the marshy surroundings of Lousiana. The environment was something which could have been better used to the advantage here. The potential was surely there to bring something better than what is on screen.
Performers of the Soul :: As you might have noticed in the movie Predestination, Sarah Snook is very much a talented actress, and she does an excellent job here too. Here, she proves to be the right choice for horror too. If she did a bigger job in that science fiction drama, here the movie is better, without ambiguities or boredom as there is the direct entry into horror and mystery. Mark Webber has very less to do here though, and it is the same with David Andrews and Joelle Carter, as the movie is completely focused on Sarah Snook and her Jessabelle. Amber Stevens West plays the ghostly Jessabelle with the needed intensity, but the number of appearances of the ghost is also too less as far as the horror fans are concerned. The bath-tub scene and the car scene are the two notable ones related to the same.
How it finishes :: When you look at the critical appreciation of this movie and the total rating at IMDb, you will hesitate about watch this one. But this movie is undoubtedly better than what you see everywhere; it has never been easy for the horror movies to get the critics on their side – it is more like a curse which this particular genre has inherited through the ages, even though there are exceptions. Sometimes, most of the critically appreciated movies are not really that good horror at all. So, watching Jessabelle is not a mistake that you make, but an attempt to see how another horror movie will work. You have to note that The Lazarus Effect, The Remaining, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death and The Pyramid got lesser rating on IMDb. You can watch this one along with The Skeleton Key which is a similar movie in heart and soul.
Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Kevin Greutert
Starring: Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, David Andrews, Joelle Carter, Ana de la Reguera, Amber Stevens, Larisa Oleynik, Chris Ellis, Brian Hallisay, Lucius Baston, Jason Davis, Vaughan Wilson
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.