Obvious 70s Movie is Obvious
Whether it’s the soundtrack, haircuts, methodical pace or the simple hippy ideals of letting random squatters remain in your home, everything about Let’s Scare Jessica to Death screams the 1970s. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A lot of my favourite movies come from the 70s. I’m one of these girls who digs a slow burner whereby the tension is cranked up, step-by-step. However, kids today with their on-demand movies, hyper-speed video game shooters and instant access to Orlando Bloom’s penis might not quite dig it so much.
I can also understand that. Slow burners that dabble in mystery often deliberately drip feed details. It was perhaps ten or fifteen minutes into the movie before I quite understood what was going on. In my defence, this may be because whoever was responsible for the audio may have been drunk. On multiple occasions in the first-half of the movie, voices are not synced, or lips move, and no sound is heard. A tad irksome, that.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death
I think I have it now, though. Jessica (Zohra Lambert) has just been released from an institution. Why she was there isn’t entirely clear, but it seems to have something to do with hallucinations. There is a minor suggestion it might be something more sinister, but this is not elaborated on. Her husband, Duncan (Garton Heyman), a man I initially thought was her care worker, and their mutual buddy Woody (Kevin O’Connor) are off to Jessica and Duncan’s new abode. It’s a farmhouse in a rural community, apparently controlled by a bunch of middle-aged mafioso. Okay, they’re not mafioso, but they are a gang of mature pricks.
Upon arriving at their new home, they discover a squatter, Emily (Mariclare Costello), is living in the house. Despite knowing nothing about her, Jessica invites her to stay and nobody seems to take issue with this – because hippies. Well, also, because “horny”; both Woody and Duncan wouldn’t mind getting a bit more intimately acquainted with Emily. Nudge, nudge. Emily seems nice enough. She plays the guitar and sings a song. Duncan eventually gets his huge instrument out and plays along. And to cap off a night of getting to know each other, Emily suggests a seance. Nothing odd there.
Is This the Real Life?
Of course, things do start to get quite odd for Jessica. She hears voices. A strange girl keeps appearing and disappearing. Paranoia takes its hold, and she suspects Duncan wants to ditch her for Emily. Yet still, Jessica lets Emily stay. You have to give her credit for her manners, some of the time, anyway.
As I’ve said, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a slow-burner. However, it is a pretty effective one. I would not go as far as to suggest it’s scary, but it is damn sure creepy at times. I dare say that the title is ingenious! The words Let’s Scare Jessica to Death clearly imply something. You see all these weird, creepy and at times, awful things and you can’t help but wonder whether this is actually happening, whether it’s in Jessica’s mind or whether it is part of a plot against her. It is an effective trick for keeping a viewer engaged!
When the story does start to pick up, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a near-relentless assault. Harsh sounds are mixed with ambiguous cinematography. The pacing ebbs and flows almost as though the makers are trying to disorient the audience. With every new reveal, a new question is raised. For a low budget movie, this is very competent.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is not perfect, of course. I’ve mentioned a few of the technical hiccups already. There is a twist which is made obvious too soon to anybody paying attention, and leaves you wondering how the characters didn’t spot it! Also, a common complaint from me, but only Jessica was remotely fleshed out as a character. The supporting cast is just there, for the most part. Woody, in particular, might as well have not been there. I assume he was paid in weed because expending money on an actor for a role as pointless as Woody would have been pretty daft.
All in all, though, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a good one. If you can navigate your way through the somewhat meandering opening, by the end, you might find yourself on the edge of your seat. Twists, turns and surprises galore! It’s not hard to see why this is one of Stephen King’s favourite horror movies.