30th Oct2020

‘Spell’ VOD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, Lorraine Burroughs, Hannah Gonera, Kalifa Burton, John Beasley, Tumisho Masha, Steve Mululu, Peter Butler | Written by Kurt Wimmer | Directed by Mark Tonderai

If there is one thing that horror films have taught us by now, don’t return to your childhood home that you ran away from in the past. Just don’t, it never ends good, you’ll probably end up dead or held against your will by some murderous local. Spell is yet another film that just confirms this.

When Marquis (Omari Hardwick) flies to rural Appalachia for his father’s funeral, his plane carrying him and his family crashes. When he awakens he finds himself wounded and alone in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic. With no way to escape and his family missing, he is nursed back to health in preparation for the blood moon celebrations.

I’m a fan of horror films that take city folks out of their element and into environments where things are done differently and more “traditional”. Spell is a movie that does this, with added Hoodoo magic and the added theme of coming home, to a place where Marquis thought he’d escaped. The fact that he can’t really escape his past though, is one of the ongoing themes. If he is to escape once again, he’ll have to accept where he is from and use it to his own advantage. Again a theme we’ve seen many times, but when used well it works. Which in the case of Spell it works well.

These themes are well trodden of course, but they tend to be because they work. We only have to look at the popularity of movies like The Wrong Turn, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and many others to see that. What Spell does is to add the mystical element of Hoodoo to this. While we’ve also seen this style of magic used before too, I find that Spell uses it well.

What Spell does is to take Marquis as a man who is hiding from his past, and to be able to overcome his challenges that he is facing, he has to accept where he came from, and use it to survive. Many elements of Marquis’ experience with Eloise and her family feel like Misery, but without of course the obsessed book fan. The constant escape attempts though do have a similarity and it works well.

What really makes Spell work as a horror is the acting ability on show, especially from Omari Hardwick as Marquis, Loretta Devine as Eloise, and the rest of the cast. It is fair to say though that the main battle is between these two characters and the actors play the parts well and make that struggle between the two feel like a battle of wills that at times seems overwhelmingly mismatched against Marquis.

Where the film does start to flounder a little for me is in the conclusion where Marquis has to do battle to save himself and his family. With a focus a little too on action, though arguably it is needed. The transformation of Marquis into the fighter he must become is expected and happens, but the more mystical side of things feels a little strained by this point. For the most part though, Spell works well as an entertaining horror that puts a new spin on the style of story we’ve seen many times in the past. If you are looking for a film that is entertaining, has a few gross out moments that will have you cringing as you can imagine the pain, then this is for you.

**** 4/5

Spell is available to buy or rent on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Store, Google Play and more.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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