DVD REVIEW: JESSABELLE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KEVIN GREUTERT / SCREENPLAY: ROBERT BEN GARANT / STARRING: SARAH SNOOK, MARK WEBBER, JOELLE CARTER, DAVID ANDREWS / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 2ND
Editor Kevin Greutert might be best known for his work on the Saw series (even directing the fourth and 3D entries) but his third feature is a far cry from the torture porn and splatter-fest of modern horror’s most enduring franchise.
Jessabelle is dependent on genre fail-safes, utilising familiar themes, plot points and scenarios. After a car accident which kills her boyfriend and unborn baby, Jessie (Snook) stays with her hick father to continue her slow and painful rehabilitation. Stranded in a wheelchair, she soon learns uncomfortable truths about herself and her mother who died when she was a baby.
Greutert ditches the dread and debauchery of Saw for a lighter more introspective touch, the finished product looking more like a coming of age indie drama, with a score reminiscent of something conjured up by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. It’s very well shot, and the editing is precise and effective, both giving glimpses into the filmmaker’s potential. But the script from jack-of-all-trades Robert Ben Garant is the film’s major shortcoming.
Jessabelle is a story of possession which trivialises Haitian culture for a few cheap thrills. It sees Jessie tormented for the better part of 90 minutes for no other reason than she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The most unsettling scenes are watching the videos of her mother that Jessie discovers, documenting her descent into the cancer she won’t accept treatment for. That said, horror films need to stop relying on tarot cards to progress weak scripts. Stylistically different, thematically familiar, and insultingly bland, Jessabelle is one for fans of Ouija and Annabelle only.
Special Features: Audio commentary / Featurette / Outtakes / Deleted Scenes
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