Director: Mark Tonderai
Cast: Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley
Release Date: January 12, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
Please Note: Paramount Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Spell’ follows successful businessman Marquis (Hardwick) who after hearing of his father’s passing sets out with his wife and two children in their private plane to return to his old home. But when a dangerous storm results in their plane going down, Marquis awakens alone in a strange bed where he is told that he was the only one found in the wreckage. Suffering from injuries, he’s treated by a mysterious woman named Ms. Eloise (Devine) and her family whose Hoodoo practices claim to be capable of helping him recover. But as he tries to uncover more details of what’s going on around him, the answers promptly lead him to the realization that there is something far more sinister going on and that the help from these folks just may be for an entirely other purpose than mere kindness.
Directed by Mark Tonderai (House at the End of the Street, TV’s Gotham) from a screenplay written by Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium, Salt), Tonderai does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Spell’ guiding along the tense and unpleasant events and doing a great job of capturing the mood throughout. The film also owes its share of credit to the capable cast which includes Omari Hardwick (TV’s Power), Loretta Devine (Death at a Funeral), John Beasley (The Purge: Anarchy) and more who all offer solid performances for the most part in their respective roles and help this one to work so smoothly.
‘Spell’ conjures up an intense and unnerving tale of uncertainty, hoodoo and one man’s fight to uncover the truth of the eerie and uncertain situation he finds himself in after an unexpected plane crash. It’s a wonderfully made horror film for the most part that finds great ways to immerse the viewer within the uncertainty and drug-induced confusion our lead is thrown into, using blurring camera movements and odd angles to represent Marquis’s point of view and slowly revealing various elements along the way as he uncovers them which better keeps us on his level throughout. Sprinkling in some truly unnerving moments and revelations that are sometimes precisely what they seem while at other times can be anything but, all slowly building into a nail-biting crescendo that for the most part does not disappoint. ‘Spell’ does borrow from other popular horror stories in its own right, yet usually with its own unique style and touches contributed to each element and while it may not be absolutely perfect, it’s a pretty fantastic and engaging outing that genre fans won’t want to disregard. I would definitely encourage horror movie fans and fans of the lead cast (particularly Omari Hardwick and Loretta Devine) to try and make a point of giving ‘Spell’ a chance whenever it’s convenient. It’s almost up there with some of the finer horror offerings of 2020 and even if you may be understandably hesitant to drop the funds on a blind purchase, it’s definitely still well worth checking out.
Overall, ‘Spell’ is an intense, unsettling and intriguing journey of one man’s struggle to uncover the reality of the uncertain situation he finds himself in and what he’s willing to do to find the truth about his family and those claiming to help him but who in reality are more likely his captors; while cleverly utilizing dizzying camera techniques that do a great job of helping to put the viewer in our lead’s mindset. ‘Spell’ is definitely recommended, especially for fans of the horror genre as well as dedicated fans of Omari Hardwick and Loretta Devine who should all find quite a bit to appreciate about this tense and often unnerving horror thriller. It’s an engulfing and altogether quite well-made tale that pays homage to other horror classics and for anyone whose interest is even moderately piqued by this one it should at least be worthy of ninety minutes and the cost of a rental one evening.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Spell’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and offers a smooth, sharp and nicely detailed presentation from start to finish. It holds up admirably even during the numerous darkly lit moments throughout and never allows for anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible; aside of course for intended moments that use blurring and other camera tools to put us in the mindset of the lead. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that should largely satisfy fans of the film and newcomers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio Soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack provides a generally clean, crisp and somewhat aggressive audio presentation throughout. It takes advantage of all five available channels quite regularly in order to send music, pounding rain and other fitting audio activity throughout the various speakers while never resulting in any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously becoming distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a quite decent 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that may not be the most remarkable presentation in recent memory but still delivers quite nicely on most fronts and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Spell’ features a few nice extras that fans should enjoy. Included on the release is quite a few ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the film including an ‘Alternate Opening and Ending’ (running approximately 27 minutes in length altogether), along with the short ‘The Nightmare Spell’ (running approximately 3 minutes). We are also treated to a couple of Behind the Scenes Featurettes that explore what went into bringing the film to life and featuring interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Rootwork: Conjuring Spell’ (approximately 18 minutes) and ‘The Art of Hoodoo’ (13 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
‘Spell’ Arrives Home on Blu-ray & DVD January 12, 2021 & is Now Available on Digital from Paramount Players & Paramount Home Entertainment
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