Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

Written by Michael Clawson

75/100

Hadn’t heard of this movie before I saw it on Criterion’s ‘70s Horror program. The well-played ambiguity and eerie atmospherics are just what I was hoping for.

Just after her release from a mental hospital, Jessica moves into an old farmhouse in Connecticut with her husband Duncan and his friend Woody. Upon arriving, they’re startled to discover a vagrant named Emily has been squatting in the house since the previous owners left. After the initial surprise, they find that they all get along, so Emily’s invited to stay. Weird situation if you ask me, but hey, to each his own.

Jessica starts seeing and hearing things, and she’s not sure if something supernatural is afoot or if it’s all in her head. When they go swimming in the nearby lake, she briefly sees a woman’s body floating beneath the surface (a creepy image), and she keeps spotting a young woman watching her from afar outside—perhaps it’s the woman that a townsperson says once lived in their house, up until she drowned in the lake. Local legend says she became a vampire.

Despite some clunky film-craft and less than great performances, Hancock keeps the film pitched in a creepy register. Between the synth music and voices in Jessica’s head, the sound stands out as one of the cooler elements. The role of the townspeople, who aren’t welcoming to the free-spirited newcomers, along with Duncan’s driving a hearse with “Love” and a heart painted on its side, positions the film as a kind of sounding of the death knell for hippie culture.

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death Trailer

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is currently available to rent and purchase digitally.