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Kevin Greutert
Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, David Andrews, Joelle Carter, Ana de la Reguera
Writing Credits:
Robert Ben Garant

The Dead Are Back For Life.

Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return -- and has no intention of letting her escape. MPAA:
Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 1/13/2015

• Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Greutert, Writer Robert Ben Garant and Executive Producer Jerry P. Jacobs
• “Deep in the Bayou” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Extended Ending
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Jessabelle (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 12, 2015)

Bold prediction: many fans will confuse 2014’s Jessabelle for 2014’s Annabelle and buy the wrong Blu-ray or DVD. Sheepish admission: that’s what I did. I’d never heard of Jessabelle, but I requested a review copy because I thought I’d get Annabelle instead.

Oh well – I have Jessabelle now, so I may as well watch it. Pregnant young woman Jessabelle “Jessie” Laurent (Sarah Snook) plans to move in with her fiancé Mark (Brian Hallisay). However, as they drive to their new home, a truck rams into their car and kills Mark. Jessie ends up severely injured and loses the baby.

Jessie spends two months in the hospital. With nowhere else to turn, she calls her estranged father Leon (David Andrews) to get her. Jessie moves into his house in rural Louisiana, the home where she lived as a kid.

As Jessie hangs out there, she finds old videotapes created by her deceased mother Kate (Joelle Carter). In these, Kate reads tarot cards to foresee Jessie’s future – and spooky events start to occur. Are these real or just part of Jessie’s fevered imagination?

Although Jessabelle ended up on my door due to my mistake, one aspect of its creation intrigued me: its screenwriter. Robert Ben Garant composed the script, and that surprised me. Best-known for comedies like Reno! 911 and Night at the Museum, Jessabelle appears to be his first step outside that genre.

Apparently another Garant-penned horror flick will emerge in 2015, as IMDB mentions an effort called The Veil. I hope that one works better than the semi-limp Jessabelle. While this movie comes with some decent moments, it feels too cliché to turn into anything memorable.

Oh, Jessabelle does manage a few interesting twists along the way. In particular, the use of the 1980s videos created by Jessie’s mother offers an unusual way to develop the tension. These scenes offer the film’s most clever components.

I also think Jessabelle doesn’t tip its hand in terms of the reality of events. With movies such as this, we usually know right away whether the supernatural material truly happens to the characters, but Jessabelle leaves some intrigue and uncertainty, which I like.

Unfortunately, Jessabelle doesn’t come with a lot of additional ingenuity, and even the videotapes create their own problems. Jessie tends to be an awfully passive character, and her viewing of her mom’s videos accentuates that. Through most of the movie, we see Jessie watch as material unfolds around her; she gets little to do and that forms a hole at the center of the tale.

I get that some additional tension may result from Jessie’s inability to walk, as we feel even more concerned about her because we know she can’t easily escape threatening situations. Nonetheless, the choice to make her wheelchair-bound feels like a gimmick and a cheat; it’s an easy way to force the character in bad spots with less ability to flee. A better movie would’ve found a more inventive way to torment its protagonist.

We also find ourselves stuck in a lot of long exposition sequences. I don’t mind those too much in the early stages, but these persist as the movie goes, and they become a substantial portion of the finale. Obviously I won’t toss out spoilers, but suffice it to say that we get way too much in the way of “Morris the Explainer” elements at the end. These rob the conclusion of some potential drama, as we’re once again stuck with a film that tells us what it should show us.

Perhaps to compensate for all the talk, Jessabelle tends to rely on predictable “boo moments”. That remains my biggest complaint about many – most? – modern horror movies: they do little to create tension naturally and just throw out jolts at random instead. That happens through much of Jessabelle and results in a flick with no true scares.

Jessabelle comes with a capable cast, and Snook provides a lovely presence throughout the film as well as one who handles the character in a positive manner. I can’t say I dislike Jessabelle but the end result seems pretty average for the genre and not something that creates a dynamic horror experience.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Jessabelle appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image seemed positive.

Overall definition seemed good, with only a little softness along the way. Any instances of softness stayed minor and created no real distractions. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws remained absent.

As one might expect, the film opted for a stylized palette, though tints varied dependent on setting. “Happier” scenes went with an amber impression, while “scarier” sequences tended toward a teal tone. These weren’t imaginative decisions, but they seemed acceptable. Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows showed appropriate delineation. I felt pleased with the transfer

As one would expect from a horror tale, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack came with a fair amount of sonic pizzazz. Scare scenes added some spark and atmosphere contributed some involving material. These gave the mix many chances for active use of the five speakers and it created a broad, engaging spectrum.

Audio quality was solid. Effects came across as accurate and concise, and speech seemed natural and crisp. Music was lush and full as well. This became a good mix that suited the material.

The set throws out a few extras, and these start with an audio commentary from director Kevin Greutert, writer Robert Ben Garant and executive producer Jerry P. Jacobs. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of how Garant came to write the script, story/character areas, sets and locations, effects, music, cast and performances, and related domains.

From start to finish, the participants deliver a pretty rollicking commentary. They manage a light tone with a lot of funny moments but still give us a high level of useful information about the film. This results in a lively, entertaining and educational discussion.

During the nine-minute, 14-second Deep in the Bayou, we hear from Greutert, Jacobs, production designer Jade Healy, and actors Sarah Snook, Mark Webber and David Andrews. “Bayou” looks at story/characters, sets and locations, and a few other movie-based areas. A handful of decent insights emerge, but “Bayou” remains pretty superficial most of the time.

Some unused footage appears as well. We get seven Deleted Scenes (7:48), Outtakes (2:39) and an Extended Ending (1:11). The “Deleted Scenes” mostly concentrate on sequences from the film’s earlier moments; they also add a little to existing segments between Jessie and Preston. None of them seem significant – or interesting, honestly.

As for the “Outtakes”, they give us a blooper reel with the usual wackiness. The “Extended Ending” just pads the existing finale by about 45 seconds. Nothing stimulating or intriguing happens during that period.

The disc opens with ads for Sinister, The Haunting in Connecticut, The Quiet Ones and Mas Negro Que La Noche. No trailer for Jessabelle shows up here.

At times, Jessabelle shows promise. However, it usually sticks with “tried and true” horror devices, and those make it a fairly mediocre film. The Blu-ray presents fairly good picture and audio along with supplements highlighted by a solid commentary. I’ve seen worse horror films than Jessabelle, but it does nothing to make it memorable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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