Director and writer, Mark Tonderai (House at the end of the Street, Hush), brings us a high-tension tale in his new horror-thriller movie, Spell. A movie that at its core is very reminiscent of Steven King’s classic horror, Misery but on the contrary to the much-loved classic, Spell is dripping with the dark hues of Voodoo magic and carries the distinct tones of Jordon Peele’s 2017 movie, Get Out.
Spell is done in a way that very seldom leaves room for boredom. The movie starts with a reasonably short opening that sees an affluent black family, flying out to pay their respects to the father’s father, out in the sticks in rural Appalachia. After their personal airplane (yes, you read that right) crash-lands, the father of the family is ‘rescued’ by a seemingly motherly lady, named Miss Elouise (Loretta Devine).
Waking up in a strange bed, in a strange house, on a strange farm (yes, there’s a lot of strange things in Spell), the father, Marquis T Woods (played by Omari Hardwick), wants nothing more than to find out what has happened to his family and if they survived the crash.
As the movie unwinds, it becomes increasingly evident that all is not what it seems as outwardly maternal Elouise slowly allows her creepy, foreboding true-self to show through the friendly veneer of the loving, caring nature she is so keen to uphold.
High-Tension Flow and Superbly Engaging
The fact that protagonist, Marquis T Woods, wakes after his accident with a severely injured foot, makes for a Misery-esque tension as he is forced to discreetly navigate his surroundings with a giddying-tensive slow pace.
The excellently creepy Elouise is both perfectly cast and executed with the care and precision of Loretta Devine. Each and every time she enters the scene, she brings with her a welcome unease and creeping feeling of anticipation as you begin to wonder what she is going to do next. Shortly after Marquis awakes, in fact, she shows him the poppet that she has so lovingly crafted from his personal possessions. The poppet sits on the window ledge, casting an ominous eye on our hapless hero throughout his imprisonment and offers an extra layer of impending danger to an already anxiety-inducing movie.
A Few Moments go to Remind us that Spell is far from a High-Budget Production
In its entirety, Spell is a great flick with a lot to offer and an interesting premise. However, it is far from perfect and it’s sadly just a few, small moments that go to remind us that we’re actually watching a budget film. As great a character Elousie is, for instance, the actress’s portrayal does sometimes seem a little forced and over-the-top. Aside from these few discrepancies of skill, some of the visual effects prove to be poorly executed and, at times, take away from the immersive narrative.
Spell is an engaging, creepy tale of dark magic that any horror fan would enjoy and should certainly add it to their ‘to-watch’ list. The movie very seldom becomes slow and dragging as with the case of many of the horror movies of yesteryear. Instead, Spell proffers some genuinely creepy moments with a fine blend of psychological horror and the occult, with a dash of teeth-clenching gore. If taken with a pinch of salt, Spell will be a wholly enjoyable experience.
Any horror fan should certainly have this on their ‘to-watch’ list.