Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Jessabelle Movie Poster Image
Messy ghost story has scares but little blood and gore.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Sometimes it's not a good idea to go home again.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A male character, a former boyfriend of the female protagonist, is very sympathetic and helpful, endangering himself (and getting himself into trouble with his wife) to assist his friend in need.


Not much blood or gore. Ghosts take solid form and attack victims. Intense fighting, with struggling, kicking, and punching. A character's head is bashed. In a dream sequence, the main character witnesses a gory operating table, with some blood shown. A sudden car crash. A character is burned alive in a shed (seen from the outside). Ghosts do scary things like scream and spew icky stuff in people's faces. A tiny coffin for a baby is dug up and opened; suggestions of violence toward the baby. Some kind of dead animal is shown. Guns are briefly fired. Some meanness and cruelty toward main character in wheelchair.


The female lead wears a wet tank top after a bath. Nothing explicit is visible.


"S--t" is heard several times. "Goddamn" and "ass" are heard more than once. "Jesus" is used as an exclamation.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character drinks several glasses of whisky, but doesn't appear to be drunk. A flask is shown in her father's car. Some prescription pills are found in a drawer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jessabelle is a horror film about ghosts. Though it comes from one of the filmmakers behind the ultra-gory Saw franchise, this one isn't nearly as gory. But although blood is minimal, there's fighting and struggling, scary ghost stuff, a gruesome nightmare sequence, a character burned alive, and some general meanness -- as well as a life-changing car crash. Language includes several uses of "s--t," plus a few uses of "goddamn" and "ass." A flask is shown, and the main character drinks whisky in one scene. In one scene, she wears a wet tank top after coming out of the bathtub, but there's no nudity. Teen horror hounds will no doubt be clamoring to see it.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEric A. November 16, 2014
Kid, 11 years old July 20, 2015

Not as scary as it seems

I am 11 and I've watched this movie with a friend of mine since we have a higher tolerance for horror films.This movie actually didn't scare us that m... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byLauraKinney March 16, 2020


This was a great movie! It had me guessing the entire time, and I was freaking out every time I thought I was going to see the ghost girl. I only screamed once,... Continue reading

What's the story?

Jessie (Sarah Snook) is about to start a new life with her boyfriend when a car accident changes everything. Now in a wheelchair, she's forced to live with her estranged dad in the house where her mother died. She finds some old videotapes recorded by her mother; on them are some strange tarot card readings; later, her father reacts very strongly to her having watched the tapes. Before long, Jessie begins seeing ghosts, and the visits grow more and more violent. An old flame, Preston (Mark Webber), turns up to help, but can they solve the mystery before the ghost makes its final attack?

Is it any good?

Whenever JESSABELLE comes to a scary part, it turns into a messy, shaky jumble, frequently blurring or obscuring whatever it is that's supposed to be scary. Director Kevin Greutert was a film editor for years before he became a director with the "torture porn" films Saw VI (2009) and Saw 3D (2010), but you'd never know it. Perhaps Greutert and screenwriter Robert Ben Garant never really established the rules of the ghosts. Why do they bother appearing and attacking in solid form when they can also do things by telepathy?

The movie does make atmospheric use of its southern bayou setting. And Greutert seems to care about his characters; he gives them several human, non-scary moments that are effective, and it helps that Snook and Webber are so sympathetic in their roles. But ultimately even they fall apart under the strange illogic of the entire situation and a barrage of unanswered questions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Jessabelle's violence. How much blood and gore is shown? Does a lack of blood and gore make a movie less violent?

  • What makes a good horror movie? Gore? Noises? Mood? Atmosphere? How does this one compare to others you've seen?

  • Why are ghosts scary?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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