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Times of India
An accident leaves Jessie (Sarah Snook) wheelchair-bound. With nowhere to go, in order to recuperate, she moves into her childhood home, where her mother died years back. However, her hope to find solace vanishes as supernatural occurrences haunt her, making her dig deep into her past. Confirming the mysterious presence in her house are a few video tapes, recorded by Jessie's mother. What do they say?
Have you ever been scared of yourself when alone? Atmospheric and tense, Kevin Greutert plays with your mind using the theme of loneliness to the best of his advantage. If your idea of bliss is spending some time alone in a cosy countryside cottage in the woods, overlooking the lake, Jessabelle is bound to change that.
Smartly paced, the film builds up the suspense in a quiet, unhurried manner, thus letting the uncertainty of the situation evoke fear. Jessabelle is clearly not your typical horror film. In fact, the lack of activity, dialogue and standard scares initially make it look like an arty thriller which manages to keep you intrigued. Scenes involving the mirrors and a lake in particular give you the creeps.
As Jessie plays hide-and-seek with an evil spirit having an unknown motive, you crave to solve the mystery. Unfortunately, an underwhelming climax and a convoluted back-story fail to live up to your expectations. It looks like the director deviated from the original plot in order to conveniently end his film.
Sarah Snook acts well but pouts way too much for someone who's in grave danger. Mark Webber is likeable.
With its subtle scares, Jessabelle starts out really well. It's the abrupt, illogical ending that spoils the fun. However, if you like unconventional horror films, you can still watch this one on a lonely afternoon.
A year after the release of the gruesome thriller Saw 3D, Greutert was approached to direct Jessabelle and upon reading the script, he came onboard.
The film's setting had to be changed from Louisiana to Wilmington, California as no appropriate filming locations were available in place where the film was set.
The film's director Greutert has edited the video footage himself.
Jessabelle was earlier supposed to release on January 10, 2014 but was then postponed to August 29 before being given a limited theatrical and video-on-demand release on November 7.
The film was earlier called Ghosts.
Greutert was impressed with Sarah Snook's audition for Lisbeth's Salander's role for the movie adaption of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and met her the same night to finalise her for the lead role in Jessabelle.
The movie opens with Jessie (Sarah Snook) moving into her fiance's house. On the way, they meet with an accident, killing the fiance and Jessie's unborn child and leaving Jessie wheel-chair bound. The hospital makes Jessie call her dad (whom she hasn't seen for years) to pick her up. Back at her Dad's house, Jessie is given her mother's room. Her mother died years back. While looking around the room one day, she finds some video tapes in a box labeled Jessabelle. She plays one and watches her mother talking to Jessabelle (Jessie thinking she means her). On the video, her mother gives her a reading using tarot cards. The first card is Death, which her mother says means "transition". The next card says that she has never left St. Francis and that she is never going to leaveâwhich is untrue for Jessie. The third card is Water. Her mother wonders if she is a swimmer, which is again untrue. She reads that Jessie is not alone, that there is a presence in the house with her, a female who wants her out of the house. Jessie's dad shows up then and destroys the tape; he takes her wheelchair away and throws it in the bayou, warning her not to go snooping anymore.
That night she sees a girl in her room. She reaches out to her, but the figure then disappears. The next day her Dad has left her mother's old wheelchair for her, apologizing to her. When he goes out, Jessie watches the next tape. On it her mother says she spoke to her friend Moses about the reading. Her mother tells Jessie that he said the presence is a demon, and she should stop blaming herself for an accident that happened. Her mother then gives her another reading. Death comes up again, meaning transition, but further reading shows a very horrible death.
The next day a physiotherapist comes and puts her in a bath. After a short while she falls asleep, and the bath fills with blood. The ghost is sitting across from her. She reaches for the bracelet on Jessie's wrist but when Jessie starts to hum, the ghost attacks her. Her Dad comes back and everything vanishes; it appears to have been a hallucination. He tells the physiotherapist to leave and finds the other tape. He tries to burn them but gets locked in his shed and is burned to death. At his funeral, Jessie meets her old friend Preston (Mark Webber). She goes to lunch with Preston (who turns out to be married), shows him the tapes and tells him about her nightmares. Later she watches more tapes. One of them is of her parents at Christmas and another is of her mother telling Jessabelle that she is already dead. The ghost then begins attacking Jessie, again leading to her discovery of another tape in the wall.
The next day Jessie and Preston notice a glittering light across the lake. They investigate and find lots of voodoo objects and a grave named Jessabelle. They dig up the grave and find a small coffin with a baby's skeleton in it. They call the police who take the bones to be examined. Afterwards they go to find Moses, but instead find a shrine for him in an old dilapidated shed. While there, a group of men find them, attack Preston and tell them to leave. Preston takes Jessie home to get her things so she can stay at his mother's, but he is attacked by the ghost. Jessie then learns that the baby (Jessabelle) was an African girl who was murdered after birth, leading her to believe she needs saving. When she is alone, she tries to talk to the ghost. She finds the last tape on the coffee table and plays it. She sees a white baby and her mother. At first it looks as if the mother will kill the baby but instead she curses her with a voodoo spell and then shoots herself.
Her mother's spirit then appears to her, and she realizes that everything her mother was talking about on the tapes was true about Jessabelle, not Jessie. The presence in the house is of Jessabelle. Jessie's mother had a baby, but the baby (Jessabelle) was African-American, leading to the discovery of her mother's affair with Moses (the man who appeared to be on fire). Her Dad had become enraged and killed the baby as well as Moses, and adopted Jessie to cover up the black baby's murder. Moses' spirit then appears and together with her mother, they tie Jessie up and push her into the lake. Jessabelle then swims up to Jessie and takes the bracelet off her wrist, resurfacing in the form of Jessie. Preston pulls her out of the water and carries her over into the house. When the Sheriff asks "Jessie" if she is alrightâcalling her Miss Laurentâshe replies with a sly look, "It's Jessabelle."
Kevin Greutert's American horror flick Jessabelle starring Sarah Snook, Mark Webber and others released in the theatres.
Here's what the audience is writing on Twitter about the film...
A+ to Jessabelle the film for a character with a wheelchair who uses it appropriately
First off - and keeping the various Transformers movies in mind - this doesn't seem like a movie that Michael Bay would have directed. But the minute the explosions and gunfire commences, you will know that yes, this is indeed his film. He is after all, a pro at making things blow up in style.