This year has seen a flurry of horror films and we have another addition to it in the form of Jessabelle, the story of a girl who is happy and pregnant and is about to move in with her boyfriend when disaster strikes and she loses the love of her life and her unborn child in an accident. Severally injured, and heartbroken, Jessabelle (Sarah Snook), returns to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from the horrific car accident. Once there she comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been waiting for her return and has no intention of letting her escape.
Jessabelle finds some videos that her mother had recorded for her. She is shocked to realize that her mother, who happens to read “Tarot Cards”, predicted that she would be dead by her eighteenth birthday. She is unable to put the pieces together. Soon mysterious things start happening around her and her father dies raising some more questions in her mind. She finds some help in his friend Preston (Mark Webber) who goes to great lengths to help her. Together the couple tries to uncover the secret behind the strange occurrences and the predictions that her mother had made about her.
Jessabelle is more of a thriller than the traditional horror flick that we come to expect it too be. The spook and scare factor is limited. However the story does keep you guessing till the very end which happens to be the best thing about the film. The visuals effects and the setups are done well and the film will truly scare you in certain scenes. The performance from the leading lady Sarah Snook is good. She is able to exploit the intricacies of her role she successfully instills the fear that the film so much depends on. The fact that she looks gorgeous only makes the matter better for this film. The film boasts of a terrific setting. The interiors of the manor and also the few places that the crippled Jessabelle visits is created with a lot of details and thought.
On the flip side, one has to agree that the film is extremely lazy and moves at a lethargic pace which at many junctures does get to your nerves. The story holds its own primarily because of the fact that we are unable to predict which way it is headed. However that isn’t good enough a reason for the film to be as lazy as it is. There are also some serious logical issues involved with the plot which I will not disclose here as it will result in giving away the story. The ending is abrupt and it is bound to leave you sulking. I was devastated at the way this film ended and frankly speaking felt like bludgeoning the director and brutalizing the screenplay writer for caring so less for a film which was turning out to be a good experience.
The lack of scares is another factor which does pull down this film considerably. The performances by the ensemble cast leave nothing to be desired but the script really undoes a lot of good that the characters generate between themselves through their very believable performances. The scares though limited are created with intelligence and the characters literally make you fall for the scares owing to their wonderful enactment of the situations. The background score is apt and makes an appearance at the right places elevating the scare factor.There is a scene where Jessabelle is put inside a bathtub for therapy. What follows in the next few minutes is utterly convincing horror. Towards the end there is another scene involving Preston and Jessabelle which scared the be-Jesus out of me.
Having said that, the problem that remains with the film is the fact that the film has limited scares and they arrive ages apart. If only the writing was crispier and with a healthy dose of horror, Jessabelle could have been one of the better horror films of the year but unfortunately that is not the case.