Jessabelle-Poster (2)The supernatural horror film has been done to death, It’s always someone being haunted until they realize that the spirit is just wanting closure, it’s all been done, time and time again. With that being said, when a film that falls into the supernatural horror arena and offers something new, it’s exciting, and very easy to stand behind it and enjoy its scares and fresh approach. Kevin Greutert’s JESSABELLE is exactly that kind of film, one that takes supernatural horror cliche’s and throws them wildly out the window, giving a breath of fresh air into the genre and offering horror fans one hell of a genre film that is not to be missed.

After a car accident leaves Jessie (the wonderfully skilled Sarah Snook) without a fiance’ and in a wheelchair, her options are slim. Down on her luck, she is forced to move back to her family’s somewhat run down plantation in Louisiana. Having somewhat of an already strained and awkward relationship with her father, Jessie is forced (due to her being confined to her wheelchair) to sleep in a room that until recently has had a dresser covering the doors. Finding a series of VHS tapes featuring her mother, Jessie sees that before her death, her pregnant mother had taped her reading Jessie’s future with tarot cards. As if that isn’t strange enough, her father flies off the handle upon discovering the tapes and not only insists on Jessie not watching the tapes, but throws her wheelchair in a nearby body of water to hinder her from discovering any other additional artifacts from her past.

What JESSABELLE has going for it, is how it wastes no time in letting its audience know that it’s a very character based film, focusing more on slowly building up the characters and their relationships with each other, before introducing the supernatural elements into the film. Back in her hometown, Jessie finds Preston (SCOTT PILGRIM‘s Mark Webber), and old flame who, though spoken for, has an obvious torch to bear for Jessie and does his best to make sure she’s taken care of. It’s rare to have a film like this give you characters that you genuinely love beforehand, so when Jessie’s plantation home begins to exhibit malevolent behavior and Jessie is tormented by the evil spirits inside of the walls, you find yourself actually caring about her and Preston, wanting them to get to the bottom of what is after her and why it is. The supernatural horror films  of today typically provide much more of a focus on special effects and not enough on acting, but Webber and especially Snook, who has enough emotion in her face to completely grab a hold of you and make you go on the journey, both give performances that elevate the haunting film into an emotional area that is rarely seen in horror.

While the film does employ its share of jump scares and instant shocks, the focus never leaves the solid characters that we’ve been allowed to follow, and when yet another tragedy falls upon Jessie and her family, you find yourself wondering if she is actually going to make it out alive or if the sins of her family’s past will indeed return to be her end. It’s that question that runs deeply within JESSABELLE‘s foundation: are we responsible for the actions of those before us? It’s that idea, mixed with a genuinely gripping and outstanding genre hit of a film that makes it such a standout thriller, one that in a sub-genre that fails more than it hits, is most definitely one of the ten best genre films of the year. With an excellent cast, solid direction from Greutert and more than a few genuine scares, JESSABELLE is a reason to proclaim that horror is alive and well.

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  1. […] Before making his way into directing, Kevin Greutert established himself as one hell of an editor, having edited everything from THE STRANGERS and THE COLLECTION, to the first five SAW films, before successfully making the transition into directing. Staying in the franchise until its supposed end (last week’s press conference put an end to “the end”), Greutert stepped behind the camera to direct the return to form SAW VI and SAW VII. With the Jigsaw-led series over for the time being, Greutert recently jumped into directing again, with the Blumhouse film, JESSABELLE (hitting theaters and VOD on November 7th via Lionsgate), a southern gothic tale of a woman confined to a wheelchair, and dealing with supernatural forces attempting to get her (our review). […]

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