A film that begins with a creepy, dancing Ron Jeremy cameo and ends with the rape of a young woman by a demon from the underworld always promises to be an interesting watch. And VooDoo should have been just that, but it fails on almost every level as it strives too hard to shock and surprise it’s unwitting audience.
Described as an “innocent Southern girl”, Dani (Stewart) heads to Los Angeles after breaking up with her married boyfriend. Staying with her cousin Stacy (Reynolds) she plans to have some easy fun to get over the relationship. Oh, and her ex’s wife is Haitian and has apparently put a curse on Dani. Nonsense, right? Well, actually yes. What follows is a film divided into two clearly defined halves, and one that struggles with a need to put its audience through some kind of trippy haunted house experience.
Initially, director (also writer and producer) Tom Constabile opts for the found footage style as Dani mooches around Los Angeles. Justification for the camera being there is predictably scant; Dani says she wants to document the trip for her dad, and then goes on to film herself making out. The dialogue is also a problem, as, if ad-libbed to seem natural, it comes across as tediously contrived, with the characters merely acting out various clichés.
Direction in the second part becomes more traditional, but no explanation is offered as to whom might be holding the camera. Mooching complete, and with that curse now kicking in, Dani is dragged through various torments as a version of hell is revealed. Paedophilia and torture, ghoulies and sexual assault, nothing is left out as Constabile guides us through what his imagination can conjure up. There are some impressively disturbing scenes, and for a low budget film the visuals are at times effective, but it is the relentless screaming and shrieking that you will remember most. It is often unclear quite what is happening and why, and how relative this is to Dani’s largely innocent crime of being the other woman which is never explored, but it is a welcome assault on the senses given the bland tedium of the first half.
As a whole, VooDoo is an overly ambitious mess that never decides quite where it’s aiming for. As a found footage film, it is flawed, and while the extravagance of the second half is at times impressive, you never feel fully engaged, as if everything is too detached to be interesting. In truth, the film never recovers from Ron Jeremy dancing.
VOODOO / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: TOM CONSTABILE / STARRING: SAMANTHA STEWART, RUTH REYNOLDS, RON JEREMY / RELEASE DATE: 24TH FEBRUARY (USA); UK RELEASE TBA