While this past Wednesday’s episode of “American Horror Story: Freak Show” was more enjoyable than most (read our review); things have sort of taken a turn for the worst since REDACTED died. I mean, the episodes or arc don’t seem to have a point – what’s the plight of the carnies, who cares about the collectors, and why are they showing us who died this early in the season? I’m really hoping this all comes together soon, but I fail to see the “conflict” in it all – and shit, how does Twisty tie into all of this? This is the first time FX and Ryan Murphy’s series is losing me so early in the season…
Things continue next week in Episode 4.6, ‘Bullseye,’ in which Elsa unveils a dangerous new act. Stanley puts pressure on Maggie to murder Jimmy. Paul indulges in a secret romance.
Bloody-Disgusting has teamed up with Alberta, Edmonton industrial goth pop band Cygnets to bring you the full stream of their upcoming album Sleepwalkers, which comes out Nov. 15th via Negative Gain Productions.
The band has been compared to acts such as Depeche Mode and Placebo and they’ve shared the stage with such acts as Electric Six, Apoptygma Berzerk, Die Mannequin, and more.
The band comments on the album, stating:
The songs on Sleepwalkers represent alienation, despair, suicide, passion, lust, and longing. And dancing. Death is no fun if you can’t at least dance to it.
Head below for this exclusive album stream and make sure to pre-order the album via Bandcamp.
There are a lot of horror games on the way, and we have new games being announced all the time. Just last week we exclusively revealed a sequel to Outlast, which happens to be one of the scariest games I’ve ever played. As bright and wonderful as things look now, video games is a fickle industry, one that shows little mercy even to the most promising horror games.
While a lengthy silence can mean the quiet end of a promising horror game, it’s not always a bad thing. Both Dead Island and Until Dawn went without any real updates for a year, or longer. It’s relatively safe to say that most of the games on this list will see a release, it’s just a matter of when.
Call of Cthulhu
We’re rapidly approaching a full year since developer Frogwares announced their plans to bring us a new Call of Cthulhu game. It’s rarely a good thing when a game goes silent, but the wait to hear more about this game has been particularly brutal seeing as the Lovecraft Curse has already claimed both sequels to Dark Corners of the Earth and Guillermo Del Toro’s InSane.
Poor InSane. It was to be the first in a planned trilogy of action horror games based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and it had the potential to be an amazing new horror franchise. Del Toro has said he’s still pursuing it, but I’m not holding my breath.
From the producers of American Pie, Cabin Fever and The Ring, it was announced yesterday that Freestyle Releasing has set Zombeavers for release on VOD platforms and in limited theaters for March 20, 2015.
We now have a new image from Jordan Rubin’s hotly anticipated horror comedy that features Cortney Palm (Sushi Girl), Hutch Dano (Zeke and Luther), Peter Gilroy, Rachel Melvin (Dumb and Dumber To, Days Of Our Lives), Jake Weary, Lexi Atkins and Bill Burr.
Announced earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival, it garnered over 2 million trailer views and became quite the social media and festival sensation. Zombeavers is the horror comedy with hysterical interludes, gross-out gore and old school animatronics. Patrick Cooper absolutely loved it.
“The film follows a group of college students headed out into the wilderness for spring break, unaware of the danger that lurks beneath the lake. Unbeknownst to the vacationers a chemical spill has irreversibly altered the wildlife and Zombeavers are on the prowl. As a weekend of sex, drugs and debauchery gets underway, the beavers close in on their prey and the bloodthirsty beasts really do take the term ‘killer weekend’ to the next level.“
With the American Film Market currently underway, Six Entertainment has given Bloody Disgusting an exclusive image and “sound clip” from the hotly anticipated The Human Centipede 3: The Final Sequence, which is said to be the final entry in Tom Six’s “Frankenstein”-themed trilogy.
The American finale will be 100% politically incorrect, and is confirmed to take place in a prison with a 100+ centipede! YIKES.
The picture shows the inmates being yelled at by Six, while it’s unclear what the audio playing states. I hear all sorts of awful buzzwords, including “waterboarding.”
Dieter Laser and Laurence R. Harvey, who played the villains Dr. Heiter and Martin in the first and second films, respectively, are featured. Eric Roberts, Robert LaSardo, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, Bree Olson, and director Tom Six also star.
Read more about the film, and see an early image, by clicking here.
Winston Zeddemore has always been my favorite character in the first Ghostbusters, especially because of the way he’s portrayed.
“If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.”
Played by Ernie Hudson, Winston comes off like a blue collar everyman – someone we could all relate to. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, Hudson was a last minute casting decision when the studio allegedly couldn’t land Eddie Murphy. And because Hudson wasn’t the “SNL” vet, they cut his dialogue and role massively. So much so that Hudson feels as if it destroyed his career.
I always give Hudson shit for clinging on to his Winston role, and pimping himself for autographs at every convention in town, but now I actually understand why, and it sucks.
I’ve always thought Hudson was a successful actor – I mean, I see him all over television – but, according to the 68-year-old actor, he’s a struggling actor that’s still waiting for his dream role.
On the film’s 30th anniversary, Hudson wrote a very emotional story in EW about his bittersweet relationship with a beloved franchise.
I look back on Ghostbusters in a very fun way, but it’s got so many mixed feelings and emotions attached to it. When I originally got the script, the character of Winston was amazing and I thought it would be career-changing. The character came in right at the very beginning of the movie and had an elaborate background: he was an Air Force major something, a demolitions guy. It was great.
Now I’ve heard, over the years, that the part had been written for Eddie Murphy—all of which Ivan Reitman says is not true. But it was a bigger part, and Winston was there all the way through the movie. After a long audition process, I finally got the part and made the awful mistake of letting it be known that I really, really wanted it. In Hollywood in those days, you set your quote—so if anybody calls about wanting to work with you, they had to meet your quote. I had just worked with Columbia on Spacehunter, and my quote was pretty decent. For Ghostbusters, they came in at only half of my quote, because they said this role was going to make my career. I said to my agent, “I don’t care. Just take it, because I believe that.” So we go to New York and we rehearse for three weeks or whatever and I’m ready to roll.
The night before filming begins, however, I get this new script and it was shocking. The character was gone. Instead of coming in at the very beginning of the movie, like page 8, the character came in on page 68 after the Ghostbusters were established. His elaborate background was all gone, replaced by me walking in and saying, “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.” So that was pretty devastating.
I’m panicked. I don’t sleep that night. It was like my worst nightmare is happening. The next morning, I rush to the set and plead my case. And Ivan basically says, “The studio felt that they had Bill Murray, so they wanted to give him more stuff to do.” I go, “Okay, I understand that, but can I even be there when they’re established?” And of course, he said no, there’s nothing to do about it. It was kind of awkward, and it became sort of the elephant in the room.
The sad part is the thing that I thought that Ghostbusters would do, which is really kickstart my career into high gear, it never really materialized. I’ve never been told that I’ve gotten a job because of Ghostbusters; I think there have been a few jobs that I’ve lost [because of it]. Since [the movie], I’ve been given and taken advantage of the opportunity to perform a myriad of challenging roles, so what am I complaining about?
Now 30 years later, seeing little kids with their Ghostbusters backpacks, seeing whole families dress up—the movie has a special place, and I’m very humbled and touched by it. I certainly am thankful to have been a part of it. I love being an actor. I still enjoy the process. I’m still hoping that I’m going to get that one great role that I thought I had in the original Ghostbusters. 30 years later, I’m still looking.
There’s a lot more hurt Hudson is holding onto, and I highly recommend reading the full article for a reality check on how brutal and cold Hollywood truly is.
Sometimes you have to wonder about the people behind Adult Swim. They certainly aren’t sane, I can safely say that. And if their latest short entitled “Too Many Cooks”, which I was turned onto by our comic editor Zac Thompson, is any indication, they’re just getting worse and worse.
The premise of this short is that it’s the intro to an 80′s or early 90′s sitcom, complete with theme music, really cheesy “smile for the camera” moments, and hovering name title cards. For the first several minutes, it’s the same repeating gag of “let’s introduce more and more characters and never let this theme song end”. However, come the 5-minute mark, things take a turn and go into a seriously dark and twisted direction, never ending until the last scene.
Give it a watch and let me know what you think!
Last October, the Asylum Jam was established with the goal of challenging game developers to make a horror game that doesn’t rely on the negative stereotypes that plague mental disorders and institutions for mental rehabilitation. Participants are given just 48 hours to build their games, which are then voted on using the criteria that none use “asylums, psychiatric institutes, medical professionals or violent/antipathic/’insane’ patients as settings or triggers.”
Nearly 400 developers participated last year, creating 60 unique horror games. There are 50 games in the running this year, and every one of them can be played here.
This opinion might not be popular right now, but I’m going to say it anyway. The F.E.A.R. games rock. That’s not to say there isn’t ample room for improvement, especially when it comes to the series’ growing ineptitude at delivering actual scares. Even with all its flaws, since the beginning, there’s been something about these games that’s drawn me into their mildly freaky worlds.
My love even extends to F.E.A.R. 3, arguably the least-liked game so far. I enjoyed my time with it because its co-op campaign is entertaining and its multiplayer is arguably the best of the series.
So while the game might not necessarily be scary, what it is is gleefully gory, insanely addictive and one of the very few high quality horror games that can be easily played with a few friends.
All F.E.A.R. Online needed to do to be even a moderate success was meet our expectations. That means more of the refined combat fans have come to expect from the series, some decent jump scares, atmospheric environments to explore and freaky baddies to shoot. That’s it. I would have been more than willing to overlook a little jankiness in the final product if that product is free.
In this case, what you get here is exactly what you paid for it. That is to say, this game isn’t good.
If the holders of the F.E.A.R. IP are looking to run this franchise into the ground, dragging it kicking and screaming into the realm of free-to-play video games was a smart move. This is a genre that’s earned the animosity of gamers by giving us a bare-bones product that usually only becomes a game after you’ve spent money on it.
F.E.A.R. 3 may have made a spectacular stumble back in 2011, but F.E.A.R. Online has actually taken the time to shit the bed. This is a failure on an impressive number of levels. It fails as a F.E.A.R. game, as an experiment in expanding the series’ potential audience, and thanks to an alarming number of bugs, it also fails in being consistently playable.
As someone who’s enjoyed these games — albeit to wildly varying degrees — the worst part may be how soulless this game is. Trying to recognize this as belonging to the F.E.A.R. franchise is no easy task because it looks, plays and feels like just another generic budget shooter.
Speaking of budget, developer InPlay Interactive clearly struggled with whatever paltry change it had to work with.
Much of the refined combat, atmospheric environments and gorgeous visuals are gone. The creative arsenal of weapons is also no more. The levels are only here to serve the singular purpose of giving players a place to stand in as they mow down the literal river of generic baddies that predictably spew forth from a spawn point where no effort has been made to conceal it.
This franchise has spent several games establishing a (mostly) interesting world. It had a lovably B-horror movie quality to it that was elevated by slick visuals, buckets of gore and even a little heart.
In the place of all that now stands a series of cardboard cutouts that have been made to look familiar, even if all they’re accomplishing is reminding us that we’ve done all of this before in far superior games.
Halfway competent AI could have gone a long way in making up for the black void of entertainment that is F.E.A.R. Online by hiding the fact that you’re not having any fun with a challenge. The enemies here only pose a threat if you’re alone, critically low on ammo and surrounded by a gaggle of them.
As for the objectives that don’t revolve around the slaying of its pitifully incompetent cast of enemies, I’m willing to bet a majority of them — which includes memorable objectives like “Stand over this thing and hold down a key,” and “Diffuse that bomb!” which also happens to involve the holding down of a specific key — were copy/pasted from a book I imagine has MMO Quest Design 101 embossed somewhere on its cover.
Maybe the problem here is that more time and money were spent on the competitive multiplayer component, rather than the co-op campaign. It’s not necessarily anything new, they do a decent job at covering some of the popular modes from past games. Soul King returns, along with free-for-all and team versus deathmatch, only players can now transform into monsters in the latter.
Had my favorite modes from F.E.A.R. 3, like Contractions (see video below) and F**king Run! made the cut, I might have had something positive to say about all this. Instead, I’m sitting here struggling to understand why two of the greatest additions to the F.E.A.R. multiplayer were left out of this multiplayer focused spin-off.
As something that’s A.) Released in 2014, and B.) Was built exclusively for PC, one would be safe in assuming that a game that checks both of those boxes would, at the very least, look good.
Spoiler: it doesn’t.
Even on maximum graphic settings, F.E.A.R. Online comes dangerously close to looking like a last-gen shooter.
For some time now, the F.E.A.R. games have been more about killing stuff with bullets, usually in slow-motion. The first game wanted to scare us, and it did a fine job of it. Lately, the goal has shifted toward offering a fast-paced, bombastic experience that’s designed to appeal to people like me who get satisfaction from watching enemies crumble to the floor following a well-placed shot.
Even F.E.A.R. 3 had quiet moments (the apartments and supermarket immediately stand out), peppered with bits that get your adrenaline pumping. It’s an effective formula, and one that’s only partially made it to this game.
F.E.A.R. Online is more of an arena shooter with a tacked on story than it is anything else, and that only further proves that the team behind it either didn’t have the time or resources to follow through on their vision, or they had no idea what made these games so appealing in the first place.
I still believe that with the right developer behind it (Monolith), this series can make a comeback.
In order to do this, some serious attention needs to be invested into looking at the games’ strengths (effective scares, atmospheric environments, finely tuned combat, inventive weapons) while at the same time doing everything possible to shy away from its growing list of weaknesses (increasingly nonsensical story, generic enemies, everything about F.E.A.R. Online).
The Final Word: Until now, I’ve assumed that if a game is free, it’s worth checking out. F.E.A.R. Online makes a convincing argument against this, as I can think of absolutely no reason why you should expose yourself to such a lazy, incompetently made game.
I should say you can watch all but one of the videos in this year’s 13 Days of Horror, but since life kept getting in the way — seriously, my Internet went out for two days, starting on Halloween, then a transformer blew leaving me without power for a full day — I wasn’t able to get around to making that thirteenth video. My goal was to cap off the series with a playthrough of Alien: Isolation, and while that’s still the plan, it’ll have to wait a wee bit longer.
As we continue our wait for me to finally get caught up, here’s a recap of this year’s series!
Day 1 — Five Nights at Freddy’s
Day 2 — Monstrum
Day 3 — Contagion
Day 4 — Left 4 Dead 2 – Silent Fear mod
Day 5 — Grave
Day 6 — Doorways: The Underworld
Day 7 — Slender: The Arrival
Day 8 — F.E.A.R. 3
Day 9 — Saw: The Video Game
Day 10 — Damned
Day 11 — Neverending Nightmares
Day 12 — The Evil Within
October may be over, but there’s still plenty more to look forward to, starting with the closed alpha for the upcoming indie horror game The Flock. For the unfamiliar, this is an asymmetrical multiplayer game that pits a light-wielding Carrier against a horde of agile, light-fearing creatures known as the Flock. Everything is player-controlled, and the goal of the former is to survive as long as possible while the latter works together to take them out.
The Flock is scheduled to release on PC, Mac and Linux, but the alpha is currently only available for PC players. You can register here for access.
New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Mayberry is quickly becoming a master of horror. He has created a world that serves as a worthy companion to George A Romero’s zombie apocalypse, but did so in his own way with his own rules. Innocence is a thing of the past now that the Vampire War has hit full stride, and he forces a world on people that pushes people to become something horrific to battle something terrible.
Jonathan Maberry (w) • Marco Turini (a) • Ryan Brown (c)
Joe Ledger and Big Dog–two top field agents who hate each other more than they do the vampires—have to find a way to work together to stop a new species of genetically enhanced vampire super-soldier. How far into darkness will heroes go to stop monsters? How far is too far?
FC • 32 pages • $3.99
- Featuring art by guest-artist Marco Turini. (Cyber Force, Legends of the Dark Knight)
- Part of IDW’s Artist’s Edition Month Promotion!
- Artist’s Edition Variant cover by Alan Robinson!
There is a certain unsettling terror that comes with entering the world of Silent Hill. The thick fog, the insane twitching horrors that stalk you, the radio feedback that fills your ears whenever things get really freaky. “Silent Hill Downpour: Anne’s Story” captures that creeping terror almost perfectly. The medium of comics brings a certain experience of isolation that can communicate horror unlike any other form, turning a page can be as sharp as a knife jamming into your guts, and you never know what’s next, but you do know you’re in control.
Silent Hill Downpour: Anne’s Story #3 (of 4)
Tom Waltz (w) • Tristan Jones (a & c)
An all-new tale spinning directly out of the hit 2012 video game Silent Hill Downpour and featuring fan-favorite characters from Silent Hill lore! Written by Downpour writer Tom Waltz.
FC • 32 pages • $3.99
Canadian goth pop rock band The Birthday Massacre will be hitting the road this Sunday for a full N. American tour that kicks off in Montreal and culminates in Toronto on December 18th. The band will be supporting their new album Superstition, which comes out this Tuesday via Metropolis Records.
I’ve never hidden my unabashed love of this band. They’re incredibly infectious, write really fun songs, and are simply a blast to listen to. I’ll be supporting them as long as they keep on putting out music!
Head below for the full tour schedule and a sampler video.
11/09/14 – Underworld – Montreal, CAN
11/10/14 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
11/12/14 – Webster Hall (Marlin Room) – New York, NY
11/13/14 – District N9ne – Philadelphia, PA
11/14/14 – Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA
11/15/14 – Empire – West Springfield, VA
11/18/14 – The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
11/19/14 – The Oprheum – Tampa, FL
11/21/14 – Warehouse Live – Houston, TX
11/22/14 – The Korova – San Antonio, TX
11/23/14 – GMBG – Dallas, TX
11/26/14 – Electric Ballroom – Scottsdale, AZ
11/28/14 – Vinyl – Las Vegas, NV
11/29/14 – The Glass House Concert Hall – Pomona, CA
11/30/14 – The Roxy Theatre – West Hollywood, CA
12/02/14 – Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
12/03/14 – Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA
12/05/14 – Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR
12/06/14 – Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
12/09/14 – Murray Theatre – Salt Lake City, UT
12/10/14 – Bluebird Theatre – Denver, CO
12/13/14 – Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN
12/13/14 – Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
12/16/14 – The Agora Ballroom – Cleveland, OH
12/17/14 – The Crofoot Ballroom – Pontiac, MI
12/18/14 – Mod Club Theatre – Toronto, CAN
Since announcing Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic’s “Secret Wars” at NYCC, Marvel has been playing coy with a number of vague teasers. They’re very nature was provocative, often showcasing new artists taking on familiar storylines and offering a vague Summer 2015 release date. Today, the mystery was revealed to be the construction for the various states of Battleworld in the new this new Secret Wars storyline. This news screams a continuity changing storyline that is sure to inject all sorts of crazy life into the universe.
Here’s hoping Rick Remender’s AXIS tears the Marvel universe such a large new asshole that they have no other option than to rebuild by smashing together their multiple universes.
The inclusion of Old Man Logan, Age of Apocalypse, and X-Men 92′ in this mix is actually the most exciting thing Marvel has done in a long time. I still really have no idea how this will all fit into the storyline at large, but something tells me we’re in for one hell of a battle that will actually irreparably change the Marvel Universe for a very long time. Often everything that happened before today, doesn’t really matter. The long standing ramifications of event comics usually dissipate within a few months of their conclusion, but now pushing all of these events against one another promises an incredibly interesting mix. I just can’t wait to see if they stick the landing.
WRITTEN BY: Keenan Keller
ART BY: Tom Neely
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE: November 5, 2014
Reviewed By Pablo ArriagaThe story takes place in the 70s which already tells me there dudes are up to everything awesome and possibly illegal. But not at that moment, The Humans mourn the loss of one of their own. Shit goes down as The Humans try to party in honor their fallen brother, and as the story progresses, it seems that they will balance their partying with kicking ass and ridin’ hard. The color work by Kristina Collantes is amazing. Combined with Tom Neeley’s art, it actually gives out the feeling that you’re reading a book straight out of the 70s. When they’re partying, in the day, it’s as sunny as California gets, when shit hits the fan, Collantes uses that 70s multicolor flair to each panel. The story is an ensemble cast that no amount of SOA could portray. Each one of The Humans has its own characteristics and none of them are to be fucked with. This first issues wraps up nicely, it let us know what this world is like, what kind of awesome motherfuckers The Humans are, and who is trying to fuck with them. And believe me when I say trying. My one beef with this is that I wanted more, I wish there had been more story in there, but there isn’t supposed to be. We’re to know two things: one; The Humans awesome, and two; don’t fuck with the humans. With the final page cliffhanger, it tells me that many will try, and it will be a lot of fun to see them fail.
Pablo Arriaga has been bringing the gospel of The Slacker Nerd to countless people the world over with Juatcast.com. He also writes the most metal rants on the web and knows a better recipe for tacos than you do. For more writings or to be baptized in the arms of Matthew McConaughey follow Pabby on Twitter and Facebook.
The latest masked maniac flick Poker Night is on its way to VOD and iTunes on December 5th via XLrator Media and right now we have the official artwork for you to dig on.
Greg Francis writes and directs. Ron Perlman, Giancarlo Esposito, Beau Mirchoff, Titus Welliver, Michael Eklund, Ron Eldard, and Corey Large star.
In this twisted thriller a young detective is caught in a sadistic game of cat-and-mouse when he is kidnapped and tormented by a masked serial killer. In order to survive, the rookie must use the wisdom imparted to him by senior detectives on their regular poker night.
If ever there was a makeup style that screamed “horror!”, it would have to be the infamous “corpse paint” that is widely used throughout the black metal genre. Meant to recreate a demonic, possessed, or deceased look (sometimes all three), the paint is a way to give emphasis to the harsh, often evil overtones that the music creates.
For those of you who have wondered how such designs are created, New York City blackened death metal band Vomit Fist, which features 17-year old drummer Lurkrot, his father, guitarist Vürdoth, and 18-year old vocalist Skrag, have put together a video that shows how to put on the makeup and, if time is of the essence, do a quick and dirty job. Check out the video below!
You can order the band’s latest release Forgive But Avenge via Bandcamp.
Jan 11, 2015 at Saint Vitus: Meek is Murder, Vomit Fist, Skullshitter
The Axeman is getting ready to make his triumphant return to the screen, and right now we have the second official still from the production. Dig it!
From the Press Release:
#SinningWorks in association with Blood Red Films, the production companies behind AXEMAN 2: OVERKILL, the next installment in 80’s throwback slasher franchise, have released the 2nd official film still for the sequel that promises to deliver in a new chapter in the Axeman At Cutter’s Creek saga with the goal of making it darker, grittier and bloodier than the original.
The cast includes an all new actor (WWE’s Bryan Clark) in the iconic villain role of Bill “The Axeman” Talbert, as well as rising stars of film/tv including (“Teen Mom”) Farrah Abraham, (“Baywatch”) Angelica Bridges, (“Big Brother”) Rachel Reilly, (THE FOURTH KIND) Alisha Seaton, Monique Parent, Michael Foster and many more! The gory new installment is written and directed by Joston “El Rey” Theney.
About The Still
This still features WWE’s Bryan Clark as the titular character and Alisha Seaton as Maureen, the backwoods tour guide who begrudgingly finds herself in a town she knows all too well. Familar with the town’s legend and the secrets it’s trying to keep hidden, Maureen is not surprised by what she finds lurking in Cutter’s Creek. When asked why he’d release a still so soon that shows more of a character’s fate than he’s accustomed to, the film’s writer and director Joston “El Rey” Theney replied, “I assure you, Maureen is a bit more resourceful than she seems. You don’t survive the town of Cutter’s Creek and it’s secrets without being a part of them.” He further elaborated, “The Axeman is not some mindless beast, killing just for the fun of it. This town destroyed him and his life and he’s exacting a gleeful, gory revenge. Everything that’s happening – they deserve it. But he’s not the only bad guy in town.”
About The Film
The film is a collaboration between Christopher Otiko’s Blood Red Fims and Joston “El Rey” Theney’s #SinningWorks. Theney writes, directs and produces the film and Otiko executive produces. AXEMAN 2: OVERKILL will receive a theatrical release in 2015, release date and locations TBA.
The post Second Official Axeman 2: Overkill Still Puts You in a Stranglehold appeared first on Dread Central.
Directed by Kevin Greutert
Not since The Ring — or at least V/H/S/2 — have videotapes wrought so much misery and horror. Although Jessabelle (Sarah Snook) is a modern young lady living in our present day world, she communicates with her long-dead mother (Joelle Carter) through a series of clunky videotapes. You see, Jess doesn’t have many friends… not live ones, anyway.
After losing her fiancé and unborn baby in a killer car wreck, Jess is wheelchair-bound and forced to recuperate at the derelict, remote Louisiana homestead with her taciturn father, who is less than happy to have her back in the fold. This is where Jess unearths not only her superstitious mother’s visual letters to her, but also a secret that leads to the manifestation of a malevolent presence that is determined to destroy her.
There are quite a few elements crammed in here: a car crash, mysterious deaths, a deadly fire, lethal insanity, hallucinations, handicapped heroine, secrets in a swamp, voodoo spells, tarot card divinations of doom… and that’s just for starters! There’s also a ghost that’s all too corporeal – not only can the ghost physically lay hands on and harm people, it gasps with breath when startled and has a penchant for projectile vomiting in victims’ faces. (And at one point Jess says the ghost “doesn’t want to hurt us. She needs our help.” Hm. With friends like that…) It’s all just too much. Less is more!
Having said all that, I rather liked the film. It’s a great acquittal for director Kevin Greutert, whose other features were the penultimate and final installments in the diminishing-returns canon of Saw films. It’s always hard, if not impossible, to stand out as a director and filmmaker when square-pegged into the round hole of a franchise that’s so rigidly shaped and closely overseen by its producers. Jessabelle is completely original material (penned by the same screenwriter who did Hell Baby and wrote for “Reno! 9-1-1″), and for fans of mysterious stories steeped in old-fashioned gumbo and swamplands, there’s phantom fun-o-plenty.
While there is a touch of found footage (via videotape), mostly the cinematography is classic and quite lovely. DP Michael Fimognari (Oculus, “The Walking Dead”) does a great job of switch-backing between now and 1988 and blurring dream and reality (even underwater!).
The acting is aces across the board, but lead Snook is an especially good ingénue – she’s a lovely pale-skinned, red-haired, blue- and wide-eyed heroine slightly reminiscent of girls of horror yore a la Mia Farrow or Sissy Spacek.
In spite of the kitchen sink of clichés and a ghost that’s far too kick-ass, Jessabelle is a compelling, and fun, little horror-thriller with an absolutely perfect conclusion.