Wednesday, October 3, 2012

That Voodoo That You Do...Oh, Forget It: "London Voodoo" (2004)



"London Voodoo" is better than "The Serpent and the Rainbow," but can't touch "Angel Heart" with a ten foot long severed chicken head.

Yuppie American couple Lincoln (Doug Cockle) and Sarah (Sara Stewart) move to London with their toddler daughter for Lincoln's new corporate job. Lincoln is a workaholic, taking his family for granted, and gets right back into his old habits with his new job. The couple hires a hot nanny, Kelly (Vonda Barnes), who takes an instant attraction to Lincoln.

Unfortunately, Sarah has happened upon an old Voodoo grave in the cellar of their London row house. An evil spirit escapes and finds a new home in Sarah's body. Sarah is not possessed all the time, and Kelly spends her days mentally tormenting Sarah so she can get closer to Lincoln (who does not have a clue what is going on in his own home).

The local Voodoo practitioners are aware of the escaped spirit and try to warn the family, to no avail. By the time Sarah starts sporting a new cosmetics regimen and collecting fingernail clippings and blood in small containers, Lincoln teams up with historian/Voodoo gal Fiona (Trisha Mortimer) and finally acts.

I am sorry, but I have never found Voodoo to be all that scary. Sure, it's gross, but "The Serpent and the Rainbow" was not that suspenseful, and neither is the script for this film. Cockle's entire screen time is spent in an office, or staring helplessly at a female cast member. His character Lincoln is simply too dumb. Sara Stewart also gets a few unintentionally funny scenes and her suffering at the hands of Kelly is more believable (and suspenseful) than her possession by the evil Voodoo spirit. Mortimer is sympathetic as Fiona, a middle aged woman who uses Voodoo in order to be reunited with her deceased husband. Barnes' Kelly is pure evil, but she puts such an innocent look on her face, I would believe her, too.

Writer/director Robert Pratten should have trimmed the talky screenplay. There is some gore, but not enough. A subplot with a couple of horny workmen laboring in the basement is kind of dropped, and we never get to know anyone else in the Voodoo cult except Fiona.

On the other hand, the London locale is certainly different from some anonymous Caribbean island somewhere. The cinematography is crystal clear, and Pratten does some very interesting things with his camera. I liked his direction more than his script, which always seems to be the case in my reviews.

"London Voodoo" gets a lukewarm reception, but Pratten is certainly a talent to watch. (* * *) out of five stars. Watch this movie now!: London Voodoo