|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (March 2015)|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kevin Greutert|
|Produced by||Jason Blum|
|Written by||Ben Garant|
|Music by||Anton Sanko|
|Edited by||Kevin Greutert|
|Box office||$7 million|
Jessabelle is a 2014 American supernatural horror film directed by Kevin Greutert and written by Ben Garant. The film stars Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter, David Andrews, Amber Stevens and Ana de la Reguera. The film was released on November 7, 2014 by Lionsgate.
The pregnant Jessabelle "Jessie" Laurent (Sarah Snook) is about to move to her fiancé, Mark's (Brian Hallisay) house when their car is hit by a truck, killing Mark and causing Jessie's miscarriage. Two months afterward, the wheelchair-bound Jessie moves in with her estranged father, Leon (David Andrews) in St. Francis, Louisiana. She resides in her mother's former bedroom; her mother having died due to brain tumor shortly after she was born.
One day, Jessie finds a box containing three videotapes shot by her mother. Kate (Joelle Carter), who addressed Jessie by her full name, congratulated her for her 18th birthday and gives a tarot reading about Death, which told about transition, taught to her by Moses, a man whom she met at a local church. Kate warned that an unwanted presence is haunting Jessie, a reading that turns out to be true, as Jessie feels that a black-haired woman (Amber Stevens) is haunting her ever since she moved in. Jessie also has a dream where she is strapped to a bed by her mother and sees a voodoo ritual being conducted, where a black man chokes her. Leon, who has repeatedly tried to dissuade Jessie from watching the tapes by breaking them and throwing Jessie's wheelchair, attempts to burn all of the tapes, but a force burns him alive inside the house's shed. During his funeral, Jessie reunites with her high school friend, Preston Sanders (Mark Webber), but collapses after she sees a severely burned black man (Vaughan Wilson).
After Preston leaves from tending to Jessie, Jessie discovers a fourth tape that she opts not to watch. The next day, Jessie and Preston head across a nearby bayou, which Jessie has suspected ever since she saw glittering light and flames appearing there. The two discover voodoo icons and effects, as well as a grave of "Jessabelle" with a baby's skeleton, dated on Jessie's birthday, whom they give to Sheriff Pruitt (Chris Ellis) for DNA testing. Jessie and Preston then visit the house of Mrs. Davis (Fran Bennett), the mother of one of their friends, who speaks about Moses. Thinking that Moses is involved, the two head to Moses' voodoo shrine, but is attacked by a group of men who force them to leave. The two return to Jessie's home where Preston confesses that, despite being married, he is still in love with Jessie. Just before he leaves, the mysterious woman attacks and knocks him unconscious.
Left alone, Jessie watches the fourth tape, showing Kate shouting "Jessabelle, you're dead!" before it cuts off. Conducting a ritual to summon the woman, Jessie is informed by Pruitt that the baby is Kate's daughter, but not Leon's. The tape plays out again and shows Kate committing suicide, tearfully saying that Moses is dead. Jessie is confronted by Kate's spirit and realizes the truth: Jessabelle was the biracial daughter of Kate and Moses who was killed, alongside her father, by Leon; Jessie is the unwanted presence, being a child adopted to cover up the crimes. Swearing revenge, Kate and Moses planned to transfer Jessabelle's spirit to Jessie. Jessie is pushed by Kate and Moses towards the bayou, where Jessabelle swims up and takes her bracelet, resurfacing back in the form of Jessie, who kisses Preston after he saves her. When Pruitt asks "Jessie" if she is all right, she replies "It's Jessabelle".
- Sarah Snook as Jessie Laurent
- Mark Webber as Preston Sanders
- David Andrews as Leon Laurent
- Joelle Carter as Kate Laurent
- Ana de la Reguera as Rosaura
- Amber Stevens as Jessabelle
- Larisa Oleynik as Samantha
- Chris Ellis as Sheriff Pruitt
- Brian Hallisay as Mark
- Lucius Baston as Mr. Woods
- Jason Davis as Surgeon
- Vaughan Wilson as Moses
Greutert was approached to direct Jessabelle a year after the release of Saw 3D and after reading through the script, agreed to direct. Filming was initially meant to take place in Louisiana, where the film is set, but was forced to move to Wilmington, North Carolina after no appropriate filming location could be located. in April 2012, it was reported Amber Stevens, Ana de la Reguera, Sarah Snook and Mark Webber had all been cast in the film.
Greutert edited the film on his own and initially the film was slated to release on January 10, 2014, The film was later pushed back to an August 29 release date before it was given a limited release and video on demand release on November 7.
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Critical reception for Jessabelle has been mixed to negative and the film holds a 26% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 31 reviews) with the consensus "Jessabelle hints at a bright future for star Sarah Snook, but clouds her performance with a clichéd—and tasteless—storyline.". Justin Change wrote in Variety, "Making atmospheric use of the Louisiana locations, Michael Fimognari’s digital lensing alternates nicely between pleasingly sun-drenched exteriors and sewer-toned nighttime interiors," but concluded, "novel twists and effective scares prove few and far between in this ludicrous bayou gothic." Sheila O'Mally wrote, "Steeped in Southern Gothic melodrama, Jessabelle is interesting in some of the small details, and in its strong sense of the Louisiana bayou atmosphere, and then it completely falls apart when it starts being a horror film. In The New York Post, Sarah Stewart called the film, " occasionally shivery, (but) overly familiar. Slant Magazine and IGN both panned the film, with IGN stating that "Jessabelle's familiar trickery and repetitive screams sucks the life out of a promising Southern bayou atmosphere." Jordan Hoffman wrote in The New York Daily News, "There are few scares here, but plenty of mild grossness. The absurd ending ties up the mystery in a way that’s sure to annoy both supernaturalists and realists." Alan Scherstuhl wrote in Villaige Voice, "There's a couple fine (but gratingly shriek-y) ghost scares, and some grandly ripe (and dopily predictable) VHS messages from beyond the grave. But the mystery drags, its clues never really registering — they just accumulate, along with hints of backstory, a laundry-like pile you would prefer not to deal with but will have to sort through eventually." Fangoria was somewhat more positive in their review, writing "If the buildup is more satisfying than the payoff, Jessabelle remains a creditable attempt to do something a little different and down-to-Earth on the paranormal scene."
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