JESSABELLE. (2014) A SUPERNATURAL HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

jessabelle

JESSABELLE. (2014) DIRECTED BY KEVIN GREUTERT. WRITTEN BY ROBERT BEN GARANT. STARRING SARAH SNOOK, MARK WEBBER, DAVID ANDREWS, JOELLE CARTER AND ANA DE LA REGUERA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is the story of a haunting and a possession set in modern times down on the good old Louisiana bayou. Jessie, short for Jessabelle, is the unluckiest girl in the whole world, having just lost her boyfriend and her unborn baby in a car crash that happens just as they’re all driving off happily together to their new home and their new lives. That’s when Fate reckons you’re at your most vulnerable and strikes like a deadly cobra, lol.

Now, after the accident, Jessie is wheelchair-bound and forced to go and live with her one remaining relative, the father she hasn’t seen since she shook the dust of their small town off her feet years ago to go to college. It seems as if she went off to college mainly to get away from her kippy home town and her surly mean father, and you can’t really blame her for that.

When she gets to the house, the Dad opens up a secret cobwebby room that’s been all locked up for at least twenty years and says, well, here, in ya go to the bedroom your mother died in, giving birth to y’all way back when.

God help the girl if she’s of an imaginative bent or in any way given to dwelling on things too much, which of course all young girls are, especially if they’ve suffered a lot or undergone a trauma like bereavement, and Jessie’s life is chock-full of bereavements.

Her mother, her boyfriend, her unborn baby and, by extension, the wonderful life she and her bloke were going to have in their new home with their new baby. All gone up in smoke, the whole kit-and-kaboodle. That’s a lot of bereavements, enough to give any woman the heebie-jeebies.

There’s no furniture in the room barring a giant four-poster bed and a box of video-tapes the mother made for Jessabelle while she was still pregnant with her. The Momma is the kind of hippy-dippy type who believes in psychic readings and fortune-tellings and all that kind of thing.

In the video-taped psychic readings Momma performs for her as yet unborn daughter, she keeps turning up scary shit like death and burnings and an angry female presence in the house that wants Jessie out, because the ghost thinks the house is hers by rights.

Jessie is, not unnaturally, scared shitless by these dire premonitions which, if you’ll excuse my authorial interjection here, was a very unfair and insensitive legacy for any mother to leave for her child to see, long after the mother has died of the cancer that blighted her last months of life. Jessie should be thrilled when her father tries to burn the evil tapes, instead of bitching at him about it.

Unfortunately Pops, who’s clearly no luckier at the game of life than his daughter Jessabelle, only succeeds in burning himself, leaving Jessie in the haunted house alone with no-one to help her with anything. This is where she gets her claws back into her childhood sweetheart Preston, whom she left without a second glance when she quit town.

Preston is unhappily married now to poor Samantha, who is really not thrilled about the helpless little Jessie, with her soft blonde hair and her braless bosoms hanging out of her low-cut dresses, sleeping on their couch because her own house is too haunted to live in for now.

I don’t blame the hardworking, sensibly-dressed-in-sweatpants Sam at all for resenting Jessie. When was the last time Preston unhinged her, Sam’s, flaps in the tender, devoted way he does Jessie’s? (You’ll have to watch the film to decipher this naughty in-joke, lol!)

There’s definitely an angry, jealous female spirit present in Jessie’s house. There’s a tiny coffin buried out on the bayou as well with the skeleton of a newborn baby in it. That’s some real creepy shit right there.

There’s voodoo and superstitious locals who believe in what Preston refers to as ‘all that mumbo-jumbo’ but, as Jessie’s witnessing a lot of strange things since her return to the bayou, she can’t help wondering what evil supernatural forces are at work here and what exactly they want her to do…?

This is a very water-based horror film, with baths and lakes in it. It puts me in mind of THE CHANGELING, WHAT LIES BENEATH and the film adaptation of Stephen King’s excellent novel BAG OF BONES for exactly that reason.

The film’s a bit messy and implausible at times, but it’s not the only film ever to put a wheelchair-bound person in an isolated setting with no possible way of doing certain things for themselves, so we won’t berate it too harshly for that.

I enjoyed the film, though, even the cheesy ending, and I’d certainly recommend it as a one-time-viewing for horror fans. It’s like a floaty supernatural dream or something, with voodoo and some stunning visuals thrown in and some good old-fashioned sexual jealousy to boot. Enjoy it, with my humble blessing, lol.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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THE HEARSE. (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

hearse

THE HEARSE. (1980) DIRECTED BY GEORGE BOWERS. STARRING TRISH VAN DEVERE, DAVID GAUTREAUX, MED FLORY, DONALD HOTTON, PERRY LANG AND JOSEPH COTTEN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Trish Van Devere, who this very same year co-starred alongside her real-life husband George C. Scott in the classic ghost story THE CHANGELING, has the lead role in this spooky shocker.

She plays Jane Hardie, an attractive young city school-teacher maybe pushing forty who, in the same year, has suffered through the death of her mother and the break-up of her marriage.

Well, those things are enough to shake anybody up and Jane herself admits that she went ‘a little crazy for a while’ when these events came along to rock her world to its foundations.

She’s slowly getting better now though, and she’s ready for a change of scenery. She intends to drive out to the countryside and spend the summer in an old house once owned by her late Auntie, but which now belongs to Jane. She’s inherited it, in other words, lol.

Jane’s shrink- ah yeah, ya gotta have a shrink if ya live in the city…!- thinks that ‘running away’ won’t solve Jane’s problems and that they’ll still be there when she gets back.

Well, that’s certainly true enough but Jane’s adamant that she needs the peace and quiet that getting away from it all will bring. The minute she utters these famous last words, you kind of know what’s coming…

The inhabitants of Jane’s Auntie’s little country town of Blackford are unusually hostile to Jane. They don’t welcome her into the flock at all, in fact they go out of their way to make her feel like she’s got the plague. The people in the local shop don’t even want to sell her her groceries, for Chrissakes, that’s how bad it is.

Jane tries to settle down in the house that she intends to maybe be her long-term home, if the summer works out okay. But a lot of strange things are happening out at the house that give her cause for unrest.

She keeps seeing flashes of a strange woman around the place. Now that shouldn’t be, surely? The lights flicker on and off randomly in the isolated old house on the outskirts of the town and that’s just the start of it.

Jane keeps having these horrible dreams, if they are just dreams, of a huge big black scary hearse driven by a scarred man following her on the dark country roads that surround the house. Once, this ‘dream’ hearse even drives her to the local church where she sees her own body laid out in a coffin, all ready to be buried.

It might help if she’d brought some books or her knitting or a couple of good big jigsaw puzzles with her to occupy her mind. Say, a jigsaw with a picture of nothing but sky and ocean so that it’s all just blue bits and it takes you, like, five years to complete it.

As it is, all she does in her spare time is read her Auntie’s old diary (it came with the house!), which tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with a man who lures her into the rather dubious practice of Satanism…

Well, that certainly explains why the townspeople give the house and its occupants past and present such a wide berth. Obviously they think that Jane’s Auntie was sacrificing goats and babies in the house and holding Black Masses there and summoning up the devil and God knows what else.

But the house is driving Jane batty. She spends more time in her nightie driving away from the house in the middle of the night, terrified and crying after yet another scare, than she does anything else.

What the hell does this cursed dwelling want from her, and are her tormentors really supernatural or is one of the many men in her life trying to send her out of her mind…?

The town’s big sexist Sheriff sexually harasses Jane verbally and treats all her complaints about the house as the kind of hysterical nonsense you might expect from ‘city women.’ He’s a dismissive jerk.

The town’s Reverend is creepy and weird. How can Jane trust him either, any more than she can trust the Sheriff, who makes it clear that he’d like to see her naked? What a jackass.

Paul, the big blonde burly son of the town’s grocers, is madly in love with Jane even though she’s, like, a million years older than him and, frankly, too classy for the likes of him. He wants to polish apples for her every day but she has to rebuff him on the grounds of his tender years.

Paul’s raging about this and blames the painful and humiliating rejection on this strange new fella Jane’s been seeing, a chap called Tom who dresses nicely and talks posh, who literally came out of nowhere and who appears overall as just too good to be true. Well, you know what they say about things that look too good to be true. Is Jane about to learn the truth of this old adage for herself…?

Joseph Cotten (CITIZEN KANE, SHADOW OF A DOUBT, THE THIRD MAN), a true star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, is excellent here as cranky old Mr. Walter Pritchard, the town solicitor who makes no attempt to rush through the courts the papers definitively proving Jane’s ownership of the haunted house out on County Road.

This is partly because he’s a curmudgeonly, boozy old bastard who’s in league with the Sheriff and a fully-paid-up, card-carrying member of the Good Ol’ Boys Network in the town. It’s the most sickeningly sexist town I’ve ever encountered. The #metoo and #timesup movements would be wasting their time there, I’ll tell you guys that for nothing.

The other reason Pritchard drags his legal heels is that, for reasons I’m not quite sure of, he thinks that the house ought to have been his. He thinks he missed out on inheriting it when Jane’s Auntie died. That makes him the prime suspect in the mystery of who’s trying to drive Jane away from her house and out of her mind, doesn’t it…?

This is a great little horror film with lots of terrific views of the house from an intruder’s point of view. Just to mention that the whole being-stalked-by-a-hearse thing was done extremely successfully previously in horror film BURNT OFFERINGS from 1975.

Oliver Reed was the victim of the frightening ‘hearse’ hallucinations in this excellent chiller which co-starred the legendary Bette Davis and scream queen Karen Black. And the manically smiling hearse driver looked as-freaky-as-f**k, so there, lol.

THE HEARSE is nowhere near as scary as BURNT OFFERINGS or even THE CHANGELING, but it’s still well worth a watch. Trish Van Devere, who looks a lot like the sweet-faced DALLAS actress Victoria Principal, does a top-notch job of running around the countryside in the dark in her nightie screaming her lungs out. Ask not for whom the hearse comes. This time, it comes for thee…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor