Monday, 23 August 2010

London Voodoo (2004)


There is something a bit retro about London Voodoo, it feels like it belongs a different generation of chiller, or maybe it just errs in the direction of a 90s TV drama, either way this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it acquits itself remarkably well for a straight to DVD film, especially considering I paid a mere £1.50 for it.

Americans Lincoln (Doug Cockle) and Sarah (Sara Stewart) have recently relocated to London where Lincoln has taken a high powered new job (though judging by his rubbish office I would suspect he’s been thoroughly had) as an analyst (I don’t know what this means). This possibly made up job title and crappy new office will apparently afford Lincoln more money and more time to spend with his wife and their baby daughter, so things are looking swell for this upwardly mobile young couple.


Immediately on arrival, for some reason known only to God and presumably Lincoln’s now even less credible employers, they install a fax machine which is odd for 2004, but then who am I to judge, I don’t even know what analyst is. They also decide that there is some unutilised space in their basement that could be put to some much better yuppie purpose and builders are promptly engaged.

The 2004 pinnacle of yuppiedom, apparently
Moving the plot forward, it turns out that having a child to raise and not having to work is actually quite stressful and Lincoln insist that Sarah be furnished with perfect yuppie accessory a nanny/home help and so young, pretty Kelly (Vonda Barnes) pitches up (maybe Lincoln is so much of a mug after all) and now Sarah has all the time in the world to potter about, probably eat hummus and visit farmer’s markets and interfere with the supernatural.

When one of the bad examples of British tradesmen, despite not having actually done any visible work, manages to injure himself in a spectacular basement floor, lightbulb, dark related incident, Sarah, because she’s clearly got too much time on her hands, decides to investigate the scene of the mishap and promptly unearths a voodoo grave complete with the requisite charms and idols and the mummified remains of two voodoo dignitaries.

Marigolds and obstructing the course of justice

Sarah and Lincoln decide that, even considering that they are guests in another country, they really don’t need to bother with such trifling matters as the police and that instead the little grave will be a good project for Sarah now she doesn’t have to work or look after her child, thus proving beyond any reasonable doubt that too much money and too much time is not a good combination.

Not worth bothering the authorities about
Unfortunately for Sarah, and everyone else involved, it turns out that her self-designated pastime has some nefarious intentions. Rather than just staying dead the mummified folk would much prefer to get hold of some brand spanking new bodies to set up home in and the priestess makes a prompt play for Sarah’s warm womanly form. Soon Sarah begins to experience some unusualness. She finds herself having blackouts and memory lapses, begins hoarding her husband’s toenail clippings, attempts to seduce workmen and starts performing odd rituals with miscellaneous food products. She also finds she has drawn the attention of an unusually knowing charity worker and some members of the local voodoo community. These kindly souls, clearly in possession of the kind common sense that passed both Lincoln and Sarah by, give the partly possessed mother ample and explicit warnings of the danger that she putting herself and her family in, and she ignores them.

When voodoo goes bad
As Lincoln is far too busy brokering the kind of business deals you’d expect from a high powered executive in a crappy office he barely notices that his wife has gone all peculiar which is fine behaviour from a man who just five minutes ago promised his stupid new job would allow him much more time for his family. The young nanny meanwhile is also beginning to display signs that she too is slightly unhinged, albeit a more mundane variety of unhinged, and appears to be mainly occupying her time painting her nails, scrawling her employer’s husband’s name into her flesh with items cutlery and endeavouring to persuade her young child charge to call her mummy. Needless to say we now begin wandering into a relatively pointless Fatal Attraction type subplot that never really goes anywhere.

Saucy nanny

Naughty nanny
With Sarah swiftly on her way to achieving full possession and all offers of help thoroughly dismissed it falls to the hapless Lincoln to rescue what is left of this dysfunctional family, this is presumably particularly important to him as it transpires that Sarah’s internal priestess’ deceased male counterpart now has designs to make Lincoln’s businessman’s body his very own. He eventually decides to contact the kindly charity worker who also happens to be a voodoo aficionado and together they plan to save Sarah and foil these naughty voodoo ne’er-do-wells.

The yuppie face of voodoo
London Voodoo is strangely enjoyable despite having some script and pacing issues. The lead cast do a competent job and there are also some nice ensemble cameos from a supporting cast appearing as a voodoo sect in all their ritualistic glory that alone make it worth a watch. It is nicely shot, has an effective soundtrack provided by Steven Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees and, although the script is little uncertain and problematic, first time writer/director Robert Pratten demonstrates some directorial capability, I was particularly taken with the juxtaposition of the primal and the domestic in the voodoo ritual scenes. The end unfortunately is a bit of an anti-climax, but there is certainly something oddly compelling about the tale of largely unpleasant yuppies in crisis that is enough to sufficiently hold your interest through this flawed but watchable chiller. The DVD also comes with a ‘making of’ feature, which I’m sure would have been interesting and I did try to watch, but it began with a progressive series of direct to camera confessionals from the writer/director in which he appeared to be building up to some kind of minor nervous breakdown and it made me uncomfortable and I had to switch it off after five minutes.

2 comments:

  1. I am always on the look out for new films about Voodoo. Surprisingly not as many as one would think. Thanks for the tip!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, hey there, Voodoo Rob!
    I'm happy to oblige, hope you enjoy it. I too am a fan of a good ole voodoo movie so I'm very much hoping to pick up some recommendations from you.

    ReplyDelete

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