A warrior of the magical arts gets resurrected in your mild-mannered wife. London Voodoo proves that you can easily keep a good woman down when she's possessed by a nymphomaniac looking for a little lovin'.
Lincoln (Doug Cockle), a workaholic, relocates his wife and child to London for his job. The first thing he does is set up his fax machine. His wife Sarah (Sara Stewart) is very good about it—until, during renovation of the basement in their new home, she digs up a voodoo grave, complete with an altar and bodies. Not long after, she begins to clash with Kelly (Vonda Barnes), the new au pair, who has the hots for Lincoln (I don't blame her), starts sporting some major nipple action in her tight tops which really turns on the carpenters, and becomes an animal in the bedroom—and upon Lincoln's rejection of her slutty advances, begins screaming bloody faggot (and all I could think was, I sure hope so). At the same time, several visitors come knocking. A man arrives to bluntly warn Lincoln that his wife is possessed by a voodoo priestess trying to find her spiritual love, and an older woman tries to befriend Sarah, promising to help her and slipping her some suspicious superstitious artifacts for protection. Things go from bad to worse. Au pair Kelly seems sort of possessed and evil herself, doing some psychotic things to Sarah to get her out of the picture so she can become the woman of Lincoln's house. Lincoln eventually has to seek the help of the voodoo priests and priestesses who are nagging him to exorcise his wife. And in the end, people die, some blood is spilled, Sarah paints herself to look like a blonde Siouxsie (of the Banshees…ironic, since band member Steven Severin does the stunningly haunting score), there's a bunch of African dancing, and the simple words "I love you" work wonders like in any heartfelt horror film. The real shining moment for me was when Doug Cockle (what an enticing last name) got completely naked, exposing his slightly developed, sexy little bod, chest hair, butt, and rather large tattoo. No, I really mean a tattoo. It was odd to see, considering his character was supposed to be a very conservative businessman. Naked, he looked more like something out of Trainspotting.
The cover art for this British movie is much more compelling than the film itself. It looks as if there will be some undead voodoo zombies walking around or something, but that's not the case. From what I can tell watching all the extras, great measures were taken to get voodoo lore right. Unfortunately, it got bogged down by a very simple, drawn out, commercial venture that neither made voodoo seem a compelling subject, nor managed to at least pull off a frightening movie. Possessed females spouting in different tongues have been done before (and this one just didn't offer the shock value of Linda Blair). Babysitters plotting to seduce their employers have been done before. And naturally, body counts have been pulled off…with much more shock and horror. There was however, one very disturbing butcher job done near the end of the movie, and one magnificent camera angle in a scene that would have been incredibly effective had the possessed wife been at all scary. And, I'm not sure if it's an intentional homage, but the very final scene, involving a car pulling away from the home, looks like it could have been pulled right from the The Exorcist, or at least, filmed at the same location. The movie focuses heavily on plot and character development, but never creates any tension or suspense while doing so, and without you really ever understanding the motivations of any of these people. It's as if there are so many deep issues (mostly about voodoo and relationships) trying to be tackled to make this a smart horror film, but they are never fully realized, putting this in the realm of uninspired horror flicks. The best way to put it is that this felt like a typically weak scripted made-for-TV horror movie that finally throws in a little gore and nudity at the end to remind you that it's not.
The 1:85:1 anamorphic aspect ratio does a movie good. The film itself has quality problems, including consistent grain, slight pixilation, and softness, most often during dark scenes. The brighter scenes fair pretty well, with more sharpness and depth. Colors are perhaps a bit oversaturated, sticking out a bit too much from the contrasting blacks. Skin tones are also inconsistent, going from too pink, to too yellow-green, to pale. Sporadic dust and specks are sometimes rather large and white. And finally, there's a big layering hiccup at 1:30.
The sound is absolutely stunning on this disc. The mix is 5.1 dolby, lending to the atmospheric musical cues. The score simply envelops you, and had the movie been scary, your nerves would have been shot. The bass is pristine yet thumping. The dialogue is up front center, and all other sound effects travel with sheer excellence.
A good number of extras here, including 27 scene selection chapter breaks, and a trailer for the film, which, oddly, when you click on "trailer" takes you to another menu where the only option is "trailer." Other extras are:
Deleted scenes—pet peeve, but there's no "play all" option, and every time you get sent back to the menu after a scene, the highlight starts at the top selection again, so you have to scroll down to the next scene. The scenes are letterboxed, and the sound is not good, and needs to be cranked up. Most of the scenes are more of the same excessive exposition, and gladly cut. There was one scene that helped better establish that Sarah and Kelly got along when she was first hired, which could have stayed in.
Making of—this is a pretty tedious 1 hour segment, mostly featuring the director, producers and cast discussing technical stuff. It's sleepy material with a few interesting behind-the-scenes moments, and clarification that there was no body double for cutie Doug Cockle in his big nude scene.
Interview with Voodoo priest—using clips from the movie to create an outline of topics covered, this begins interesting for those wondering about voodoo, but quickly becomes longwinded. 18 minutes.
Commentary with director Robert Pratten—Smart guy, gives detailed technical info about shooting, and talks about the voodoo angles. He discusses character motivations, making it very clear how important they were too him, and his intentions as a director in each scene. He points out his connections to all the extra actors used in the film. He does manage to fill in some details for me, but when he points at that we've reached the moment were the exposition has stopped and the momentum is about to pick up in the film, I can't say I agree with him.
London Voodoo tries to be a complex story of human relationships, a look at the mystical art of Voodoo, and a suspense film all at once. Unfortunately, nothing ever quite pans out, leaving us with a film you wouldn't really want to sit through once, let alone multiple times.