Review by Monique Thompson
While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis to lose control of the plane carrying himself and his family. He soon awakens wounded, alone, and trapped in Mrs. Eloise’s attic. Eloise claims she can nurse him back to health with a hoodoo figure she’s made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
Directed by Mark Tonderai, SPELL is a horror film that presents some veteran actors/actresses in a way we’ve never seen them before. Marquis (Hardwick) is a successful attorney, husband, and father of two teenagers. When they have to take a trip to rural Appalachia to attend his father’s funeral, the family comes across some awkward locals at a convenience store during a pit stop. After flying towards their destination in their private plane, Marquis loses control and crashes the plane. Once he wakes up, he finds himself with an excrutiating foot injury and at the mercy of Mrs. Eloise (Devine). Mrs. Eloise is sure that she can heal Marquis from his injuries, thanks to the hoodoo figure, the “boogity”, she made. Once Marquis realizes that Mrs. Eloise has imprisoned him, with the help of her husband (Beasley), despite his injuries, he’s committed to getting out and finding what happened to his family. After sneaking out of a window one night and spying on Mrs. Eloise during one of her hoodoo spiritual prayer rituals, he realizes he must try to escape before it’s too late.
SPELL is that film that I can already predict will either be hated or loved by viewers, likely no in between. Let’s start with the fact that we see Devine is a way we’ve yet to see her. As a veteran to the game, Devine perfectly portrays Ms. Eloise, this caring old lady, but obviously with an extremely weird and creepy demeanor. Her character gives similarity to Olivia Spencer’s character in Ma. Hardwick is also solid as Marquis: courageous and persistent despite his injuries and the unknown of what lies ahead.
Now the basis to the story isn’t completely different or unique compared to other films. What we have is basically the typical backwoods villain that kidnaps the family from the city and terrorizes them to death. Obviously, we’ve saw this many of times before so not necessarily anything original there. However, SPELL is still a good film. It’s good to see a solid African American thriller/horror with great performances that make for a pretty solid film.
STARRING: Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley
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