Voodoo, the latest controversial effort by director Tom Costabile, is a pleasingly bizzare mix of POV filming, 70 exploitation schlock and what could only be described as a themepark walkthrough version of Hell.
There are many films which could metaphorically claim to take you to hell and back, but with Voodoo this is a far more literal experience. However, before I get onto that, let’s start at the start.
After a very very striking opener, involving a voodoo influenced murder, we start the film proper with our heroine ‘Dani Lamb’ introduced. Unlucky in her love lif,e, she hopes to turn her fortunes around with a visit to her outgoing cousin ‘Stacy’ in Los Angeles. The whole POV thing begins as she intends to document her trip for her father. This is a little odd – the whole ‘doing it for daddy’ thing that is – as most of the 40 minutes’ worth of footage at the start of the film is basically the pair of them strutting around, taking drugs, almost fucking, and a rather awkward dance with non-other than Ron Jeremy; does make you wonder about the relationship she really has with her father. Still, you got to roll with it, and in all honesty if that caused you confusion, what follows is going to blow your mind!
It turns out, the real reason for her recent love-life disaster was that, unbeknownst to her, the fella she was seeing was married – to a voodoo priestess none the less! Cursed and threatened with all manner of horrors, Costabile, who presumably felt short changed by Raimi’s ‘Drag me to Hell’, treats us to a rather visceral account of what happens when you cross the Southern witches.
After the solid opener – which is actually pretty grim and un-nerving, there are a couple of iffy jump scares to break-up the monotony of the bad-girl cliché, and then BOOM, the film moves into regions most films dared not go.
Beckoned by one of the most rhythmically chilling sequences I have seen in ages, the sounds of drums reverberate around the house, leading poor Dani towards her ultimate fate. From this point on it’s a 30 minute POV walkthrough of what can only be described as the love child of H. G. Lewis and a macabre fairground walkthrough. As the promotion proudly announces this section of the film is what has got religious fanatics up and down the US in a right state.
It really isn’t difficult to see why.
If you can look past the people in the costumes, glaring red lighting, and quite obvious sets, you will become engrossed in Costabile’s hellish vision. To be fair, despite the budgetary constraints, the whole section is full on, and pretty much consolidates this film as a modern cult classic in its own right. It’s a red-hot poker up the arse to all those lazy film makers who use POV purely through lack of creativity. Here it almost does enough to rekindle my long-lost love for the filming style. Without wanting to ruin the experience for you, rest assured, and despite the comparatively tame first couple of acts, you get to see plenty of blood, severed limbs, gut wrenching, foetus munching, priest defiling and matriarchal bowel ingestion. Didn’t see that in ‘Paranormal Activity 25’ did you?
Still, the best is yet to come…
Just when you think things can’t get any worse for our poor innocent (Dani) Lamb - and indeed for actress Samantha Stewart who, fair play, must have had a good sense of humour – things really do. Indeed, for all the hellish things you witness as she moves from cavern to cavern there is one thing missing – the big man – Beelzebub, Lucifer, the cloven hoofed…
…And then there he is.
Sat upon his throne he awaits his prize. With a throng of acolytes (aka, more men in Halloween costumes) eagerly watching, the horned one rises from his slumber and pretty much pounds any shreds of dignity left in the poor girl, out of her, one bareback thrust at a time.
And so, it is with great relief (see what I did there?) Dani’s story comes to an end. She lies there, stripped, unceremoniously bent over a table with her back-door busted wide open.
The end… or is it?
Overall, ‘Voodoo’… just go watch it. If you like cheap, nasty horror of any sort, you owe it to yourself to watch this. Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing feels as like it might be a little tongue in cheek, but yet I guarantee it will gross you out none the less. This is one of the those movies you watch, like (even though you know you shouldn’t) and then tell all your friends about.
Just as I am now…