Just the other day, I was thinking to myself that the horror genre needs more films about voodoo. Coincidentally, I decided to watch Kevin Greutert’s Jessabelle this evening and lo and behold, a genre film that contained a ton of voodoo elements!
After a tragic automobile accident leaves her flat broke and confined to a wheelchair, Jessie (Sarah Snook) is forced to move back into her childhood home with her father. Soon after she arrives, she stumbles across a pile of old VHS tapes that her deceased mother prepared for Jessie to receive on her 18th birthday. The footage consists of Jessie’s mother performing tarot readings and becoming more and more disturbed by what the cards are telling her. In addition to the alarming tapes, Jessie begins being haunted by terrifying nightmares and hallucinations.
While Jessabelle starts out like any old haunted house film, by act two things begin to develop into an original story, differentiating itself from what horror fans have come to expect. I love the film’s setting of the Louisiana bayou and feel that the introduction of some truly authentic voodoo practices really help make it more entertaining. Unfortunately, the themes of Afro-American religion weren’t enough to make Jessabelle a great film.
Director Kevin Greutert and writer Robert Ben Garant did a wonderful job of developing their characters in a unique environment, but there was something lacking here. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, however. The acting was spot on and the story itself was interesting enough, but for whatever reason, I kept finding myself bored and losing focus. I appreciate what Greutert and his team did here, but there just wasn’t enough excitement for me. On top of this, the climax of the film was rather anticlimactic, reducing Jessabelle’s replay value even more.
If you are looking for a new type of haunted house flick, give Jessabelle a shot. You can purchase a copy on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital from Lionsgate today.
I give this film 3 baby coffins out of 5.