Producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions has made a career out of taking low-to-moderately budgeted horror films like Paranormal Activity, Sinister and Oculus and turning them into profitable box office offerings – often with promise of sequel and/or franchise opportunities. The latest offering from Blum and co. is the movie Jessabelle, which – judging from the trailer above – looks like a composite of so many horror films that have come before, presented in a darkly lavish cinematic style.
The Ring, the Bayou-themed Skeleton Key – and any number of the possession-themed movies about young girls released in the last ten years (Paranormal Activity, Last Exorcism, The Possession, etc.) – are all films that come to mind when trying to place the influences that are apparent in what we see here of Jessabelle. That’s not to say the film looks bad or tame; it just seems unremarkable and forgettable, with little narrative bait or visual incentive to watch it in theaters. With so many influences at work, it’s also hard to tell if the film will be able to maintain focus, rather than offering a scattered collection of attempted scares and story beats that never tie together fully – as other film under the Blum banner have been guilty of (looking at you, PA).
Jessabelle is directed by Kevin Greutert, who cut his directorial teeth working on the final two installments in the Saw franchise (although he edited several Saw installments before taking over as director). One noteworthy sign is that Greutert is working from a script by Reno 911! co-creator Robert Ben Garant, whose comedy and family-friendly films tend to be solid (Night at the Museum, Balls of Fury), but whose work in other genres is not nearly as strong (Herbie Fully Loaded, Taxi). No idea how Garant will fare with horror – but I’m slightly curious to find out.
The cast includes leads people are not likely to readily place, including Sarah Snook (Not Suitable for Children), Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and David Andrews (Justified).
Jessabelle will be in theaters sometime in August 2014.