Written by: John White on April 3rd, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 2004
Director: Robert Pratten
Cast: Doug Cockle, Sara Stewart ,Michael Nyqvist, Trisha Mortimer
DVD released: August 14, 2004
Approximate running time: 98 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0/5.1
DVD Release: Heretic
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
An American couple, Lincoln and Sara, move to a new home in London and start settling in whilst workman sort out their new basement. They employ a new Au Pair and the workman find a grave in the basement which Sara becomes obsessed with. Lincoln is wrapped up in his work but does notice that Sara starts to become unwell and becomes aware of the au pair’s interest in him. Local weirdos tell the couple stories about voodoo and the bodies in their basement and eventually Lincoln can not deny that something otherworldly has taken over Sara. How will he get her back?
The great thing about William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is the time an care it takes on setting up an agnostic viewpoint only to be won over to a spiritual belief by the existence of evil. The Exorcist is a slow burner which works through great unflashy acting that feels real and maintains a great sense of people in something above their heads. London Voodoo takes a similar approach to its material with the eventual exorcism being rooted in Voodoo rather than Christianity.
The ambition of the writer/producer/director is admirable in taking such a considered approach to what could be sleazy or cheap subject matter but the carrying out of the ideas in this film is not very good. For instance, the attempt to give Lincoln a satisfying back story is brave but it only succeeds it telling the viewer that Lincoln is a work obsessed shit which leaves the later parts of the script where we are meant to sympathize with him severely compromised. The script also has logic holes of preposterous dimensions – when you find two dead bodies in your basement do you really go “great, I will mess around with them and not call the police at any point as I now have a hobby!”. The script is also overbalanced especially in the character of the Au Pair who poisons Sara and tries to seduce her husband just in case that whole Voodoo possession bit isn’t holding our attention!
On the plus side, the music from the Banshees Steve Severin is excellent throughout and there are some very effective visual effect sequences. These points don’t save some very poor acting and poor dialogue especially in the peripheral cast and some hoary old cliché in character writing – saucy Au Pair, horny workmen, husband who works too hard and neglects his wife etc. The film also includes some sequences which made me cringe such as Sara evolving into a Goth monster who spouts French insults with all the confidence of an English Tourist trying to remember the word for Coca Cola. Similarly Sara’s attempts to vamp it up are positively unsexy in a glamorous granny kind of way.
London Voodoo has garnered some positive reviews on the Internet but I have to say I found it to be a chore despite its ambition.
Heretic Films have released this DVD with some very fine extras. The print of the movie is good but the film looks like it was shot on DV and the presentation does remind me of a lot of direct to video movies.
The sound is very good coming in 5.1 or stereo.
The extras include deleted scenes, director commentary, a making of, and interviews on Voodooism.
This film aspires to the heights of the Exorcist or Rosemary’s baby but I found it to be poorly executed, however if you like the movie this DVD release will be just what you want.
For more information about London Voodoo and other titles released by Heretic films visit their website.