Messy ghost story has scares but little blood and gore.
  • Review Date: November 7, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

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.

Not applicable
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.

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.

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?


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. 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. Perhaps this is because Greutert and screenwriter Robert Ben Garant never really establish 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:November 7, 2014
DVD release date:January 13, 2015
Cast:Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter
Director:Kevin Greutert
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sequences of horror violence and terror

This review of Jessabelle was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old December 25, 2014

Good PG-13 Horror Movie

A well made movie but has some parts that don't make too much sense. To begin with, there is two Jessabelle's, one a ghost and the other the main character. The only kind of sex is a few kisses and that's pretty much it. The language includes sh*t and damn and a few other mild curse words. The violence is the worst part over all though. A girl almost drowns, a man dies in a fire, men beat up another man, a dead child is shown in a coffin and a ghost attacks a woman and a few other main characters. The dead mom, who Jessabelle can see through footage says that she is going to die and the same mom spits up blood. Something is put on Jessabelle's mouth and blood comes out of it, which is only a dream. Otherwise the movie over all has a few jump scares and scares. When I saw this at 11 with my 8 year old sister, we were kind of frightened, but not too much. The story is good until the end when everything gets messed up and confusing. This is the kind of horror movie with a bad ending. A man gets hit by a car and dies but nothing is shown. In the end, I give pre 13 year old's a chance to see this movie and 3 out of five stars only for the ending. A good film, but confusing and grisly.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byerica921 November 16, 2014
Teen, 13 years old Written byjohnstewart November 8, 2014

I expected better.

Overall this movie wasn't good or entertaining at all. The acting wasn't really good nor the CGI. This movie isn't really scary but kids under 12 might find it scary. It's honestly just like a mix of The Ring, The Unborn and Evil Dead but just less scary or disturbing. The violence isn't really bad, there is just mild fighting etc. The only profanity is the word "s--t" said several times and "a--" once and one or two uses of "god---n". I give this movie 4 out of 10 stars, or should i say 2 out of 5 stars while i'm on commonsense media. Anyway, if your kid still wants to see this movie, after knowing about this review, go ahead just know them and make sure they can handle horror movies and all that :-)
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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