Monday, October 22, 2012

Witchbored III: "Witchboard III: The Possession" (1995)

Ouija-nator Kevin Tenney hands over the directorial reins and takes a co-writer credit in a lousy film that will hopefully end this little series. If you have not seen the first two entries, do not worry, this film has nothing to do with them.

Brian (David Nerman) is a recently fired stock broker. He and his beautiful wife Julie (Locky Lambert) move into an apartment in a gothic building in order to save costs while Brian job hunts. Immediately, he meets eccentric landlord Francis (Cedric Smith), who has a strange collection of fertility artifacts and a fascination with the Ouija. He confides to Brian that he made his money by consulting the board on commodities purchases. Brian dabbles, makes some scratch, and is hooked on the nice old man.

We find out Julie is a most unlikely cultural anthropology professor. She has a cute best friend, Lisa (Donna Sarrasin), and confides in her often. One pleasant afternoon, Francis gives Brian an old ring, tells him he always wanted children, then throws himself off a balcony, impaling himself on an ornate gateway. At his funeral, Francis' crazy ex-wife bursts in and desecrates the corpse to "make sure he is dead."

So far, so good. We have a couple of gory scenes, and even a sex scene thrown in at the beginning...and then everything goes downhill.

Brian steals the Ouija board and borrows money from a shady money launderer for his next Ouija-inspired purchase. He thinks the board is wrong, and cannot pay the man back. Before Brian can tell him about the board, the crook is attacked by his own butterfly collection in an inspired but poorly realized scene. Later, Brian tries to burn the Ouija but is killed by the board. His spirit is trapped in a mirror and Francis' now evil spirit inhabits Brian's body, all in an effort to get Julie pregnant.

Evil Brian brings many of Francis' old things into his apartment, including mirrors that Good Brian can use to watch Julie. Soon, Evil Brian begins to change, much to Julie's consternation. He wants to get her pregnant, she refuses, and he makes the demon moves on Lisa. Finally, Good Brian gets Lisa to see Francis' crazy ex-wife, who tells them how to defeat Evil Brian in a goofy finale, involving the old ring, a crossbow, and bad special effects.

As with all the "Witchboard" films, the cast tries to work material that just is not there. Too many questions remain. Why did Francis pick Julie of all people? Why did Evil Brian/Francis bring all of Francis' old stuff into the apartment, knowing Good Brian would be able to communicate with Julie? The main villain is a demon, but not much more is given about who he is or where he came from. Julie is a anthropology professor, but this knowledge adds nothing to the plot. She recognizes some of the dead landlord's pieces, but that is all. The only previous knowledge that helps her defeat the villain involves an allergy to shrimp...don't ask.

Svatek's cinematography is mostly earth hues, setting off the bloody scenes. He also must rely on some really cheesy computer animated effects (like morphing), and reverse filming. The butterfly collection attack probably looked great on paper, but the budget is not there to make it convincing to the audience. The Ouija board here is the best looking of the series, black and gothic.

All in all, this entry is the worst of the three films. It came out in 1995, and there have not been any "Witchboard" monikered films since.

Of course, as long as Tenney is still working in Hollywood, there is probably a germ of an idea somewhere. That is one germ I hope does not spread. I do not recommend "Witchboard III: The Possession." (*) out of five stars.