Ode to VHS: Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

This is the most over rated and tedious ghost story I’ve ever had the displeasure of viewing. I do not understand the hype of this film. Some say it’s scary, are you kidding? It has a creepy vibe but I found some of the whispering voices to be a little cheesy. The Chicago Film Critics Association named it the 87th scariest film ever made. It’s on a few lists which makes me wonder about those journalists credibility. And what’s with the title? It simply does not fit….. how about LET’S BORE JESSICA TO DEATH? It happens to be Stephen King’s favorite horror film, believe it or not.

A recently institutionalized woman moves to an old farmhouse in Connecticut with her husband and friend Upon their arrival, they find an attractive hippie with red hair living in their home. The woman says the house was abandoned so she had made herself comfortable.  It isn’t long before Jessica begins questioning her sanity due to the increasing evidence that the hippie, Emily, might be a ghost or a vampire and the inhabitants of the town might also be involved.

The ending leaves viewers to draw in their own conclusions. Did this really happen? Is she just crazy? We don’t really know. There’s no answer to that question. There’s very little gore in the film because the director wanted to create an atmosphere of terror an confusion rather than use easy shock tactics. There’s no nudity, no profanity, no major one on one action sequences. Unless you count  Emily trying to drown Jessica in the lake. We are given the typical seance scene, an empty rocking chair, and weirdos in the town. At least it follows the formula.

I’ve heard that Zohra Lampert deserved awards for the role of Jessica but I strongly disagree. We aren’t given too many scenes where she’s hysterical or screaming for that matter, in fact, why the fuck is she always smiling. Did anyone else notice that? Even when she’s in distress she puts up a smile. For a while there I thought she was a “special” girl and by specially I mean mentally retarded. No offense to other mentally retarded actors.

The best part about the film is actress Mariclare Costello, who plays the role of Emily. She doesn’t give us any quirky one liners but she’s mysterious and beautiful. The scene where she’s coming out of the lake may have been the only alarming scene in the film for me. What a sweet singing voice she has too. I enjoyed the scene where they’re in the kitchen and she’s singing, “Stay Forever.”

It took 25 days to film Lets Bore Jessica to Death. The first night the film crew arrived, an eerie fog rolled in. They used this and shot outside the house and used the footage for transitions throughout the film. I loved those shots. Kudos. The lake scenes were filmed in October so it was quite a challenge for the actors. I can only imagine. I’ve actually been in that situation. I’m not too familiar with director John Hancock but I did see the film Prancer….years ago.

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