Lionsgate

Lionsgate

Half of the top ten grossing supernatural horror films ever were released in July and August, so it’s no surprise that Hollywood in general and a certain genre producer in particular would return to that release date again this year. Last year’s The Conjuring was a late summer hit, and now uber-genre producer Jason Blum is hoping to get a piece of that action with the suggestively-titled Jessabelle.

I say “suggestive” because the name Jessabelle is awfully close to Jezebel, a name and term that’s come to mean a scheming, wicked woman. Is that intentional? It’s hard to say from this first trailer which sees a young woman (Sarah Snook) returning to her childhood home after her mom’s death. It’s just the latest tragedy for Jessabelle as she recently lost both her boyfriend and the use of her legs in a car accident. She finds a a videotape from her mom, and soon the creepy shenanigans begin.

Check out the trailer for Jessabelle below.

It’s a business decision I know, but I’ll never not be fascinated when a film markets itself on the strength of a producer’s name over the director, writer or cast. Blum has been on a bit of a horror film tear (terror?) since he struck gold with the Paranormal Activity franchise in 2007, and he’s found varying levels of success with movies like Insidious, Sinister, and Oculus since then.

The common thread between many of them, aside from the genre, is that the source of the horror is supernatural. As someone who loves monster movies and practical effects I will always prefer creatures of some sort to an invisible ghost, but that very invisible nature is why these films are so prevalent. Imagine the budgetary savings if viewers never have to see an actual monster!

Which brings us back to Jessabelle.

I’m approaching burn-out on ghostly plot-lines, mostly because they’re all far too similar, but the trailer implies a potentially more interesting backstory beyond the slamming doors and creepy eye sockets. The script is by Robert Ben Garant, who may be familiar to you as Deputy Travis on Reno 911!, but he’s actually developed a far more productive career as a screenwriter of mostly comedic endeavors (often alongside Thomas Lennon) including the Night at the Museum films and Hell Baby. This looks to be his first strictly serious feature so it should be interesting to see how tells a story without gags, but I’m already happy to see a Ring-like creepy girl as evidenced in the still above.

Director Kevin Greutert meanwhile is quite familiar with the genre having edited several features and directed both Saw VI and Saw: The Final Chapter. Pardon me while I pause to realize there were actually seven Saw films.

Snook is generally unknown to American audiences, but if there’s any justice in the world that will change once the Spierig Brothers’ Predestination finally opens sometime in the future. She’s absolutely amazing in that film to the point that I’m now a fan for life. This looks to be a less taxing role even with all the crying, rolling around and overall state of terror she finds herself a part of.

So two general unknowns and the writer of Balls of Fury. Maybe I do understand why the trailer teases the producer’s involvement after all.

Jessabelle rolls into theaters August 29th, 2014.

 


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