Friday, April 14, 2017

Film Review: Jessabelle (2014)

Jessabelle (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's a moody horror film, but the plot is ultimately forgettable and ineffective."

After an accident leaves her on a wheelchair, Jessabelle Laurent (Sarah Snook) returns to her childhood home. Unfortunately, a restless spirit has been patiently waiting for her return...

Jessabelle is an interesting film. The story begins with Jessabelle's unfortunate car accident, where she loses her boyfriend, their unborn baby, and the use of her legs. Since she has nowhere else to go, she returns to her childhood home to live with her estranged father. Things go bump in the night—your typical ghost story. Jessabelle eventually finds a set of tapes made by her mother. These tapes warn her about a presence in the home, violent deaths, and so on. It's nothing groundbreaking, really. There's also this whole subplot about Jessabelle reconnecting with her high school romance, but it's really useless. It leads to a mediocre climax and ending. It's supposed to be shocking, but, to be as blunt as possible, I thought it was dumb.

Jessabelle is a hit-or-miss type of horror film. The plot can be interesting at times, but it often feels like we're retreading familiar ghost story grounds. (It felt like The Skeleton Key, actually.) It starts off very slow, though. It doesn't have a hook to really capture your attention in the first fifteen minutes. The rest of the film fares a bit better, but it's still hindered due to useless subplots, like the whole romance during the latter half of the film. Aside from being fairly derivative, the film also goes off the rails for an ending that feels undeserved and ineffective. However, Jessabelle is an entertaining horror movie. The plot may be flawed, but it works as an atmospheric and eerie ghost story. We've seen it before, but it is still effective. The southern setting, although done better in the past, is also welcomed.

The acting was okay. Sarah Snook performs well as the leading lady—for the most part. She doesn't overact, she hits the right notes, but her thick, inconsistent accent can be distracting. Mark Webber was okay, too. The film looked decent. I can't really remember much of the music. I suppose it blended well with the film, but it didn't stand out in a good way. The film was written by Ben Garant and directed by Kevin Greutert. Garant relies to heavily on overused tropes in his writing. Movies don't have to be 100% original, but they should feel inspired and creative. Greutert performs better as the director, creating a chilling atmosphere and crafting some spooky visuals.

Overall, Jessabelle is a decent horror film. Like I said, it's a hit-or-miss type of movie. For everything it does right, it does something wrong. It's a moody horror film, but the plot is ultimately forgettable and ineffective. If you need to kill 90-minutes and you can tolerate some very slow pacing, this is worth a stream. Otherwise, you can probably skip this one.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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