VooDoo Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Wild Eye Releasing

Written and directed by Tom Costabile
2017, 83 minutes, Not Rated
Released on September 11th, 2018

Samantha Stewart as Dani Lamb
Ruth Reynolds as Stacy Cole
Dominic Matteucci as Spencer Boyd
Daniel Kozul as Trey Neil
Ron Jeremy as Ron Jeremy



I just watched the horror equivalent of Charles Dickens' classic A Tale of Two Cities. Mind you, it doesn't have a damn thing to do with imprisonment, the French Revolution, or wine-making in ghetto Paris. I mean that in title only, as in "A Tale of Two Movies". If I were using a sports metaphor, I'd say it is a tale of two halves, as in the Saints got ass-pounded in the first half and almost pulled it off in the second.

That one feels more accurate, but dammit I love the Dickens comparison (thin though it may be). Stay with me, y'all. You'll smell what I'm cookin'.

VooDoo tells the story of Dani Lamb (Samantha Stewart, NBC's Days of Our Lives), an innocent and naïve New Orleans girl who takes a summer vacation to hang with her hedonistic party-girl cousin, Stacy Cole (Pink lookalike Ruth Reynolds), in sunny Hollywood. She soon discovers that escaping the sins of her past, mainly an affair with a man whose wife is a voodoo priestess, are going to be hell to escape.

Here's the thing: found footage isn't always the way to go just because you are working with a micro budget. The story (even if it is thin) must play a big part in the style you choose to present it in. The found footage (or handheld) style is great at building tension and providing that claustrophobia and panic that you need in shock horror. Please don't misunderstand me here. I don't hate VooDoo by any stretch of the imagination…I just can't connect with the first half.



The first 50 or so minutes are spent introducing you to the girls and their housemates. They party, they visit local hotspots like The Rainbow, Venice Beach, et cetera. They flirt and get drunk. They do everything you would expect of a couple of sexy young women in L.A. The issue comes in how vapid and baseless it all comes across when done in the "found style". A more direct cinematic style would have greatly benefitted the character development and expositional part of the story. The logic of the camera work doesn't make sense, i.e. why is Stacy holding the camera and filming her cousin's nasty fight with the aforementioned ex-lover? Why does Dani sit the camera down to film herself making out with one of the guys, only to cut him off at first base? Why would she film any of that when it's made clear that she is filming it for her father by the "good night, Daddy" sign off every night?! I know I wouldn't want to see my daughter's escapades even if she is a grown adult. And that N'awlins accent is patently fucking hideous. Rick Grimes now sounds as authentic as a young Jimmy Carter.

But I digress…

I'll move on to the second half lest it sounds like I am dropping a Cleveland steamer on VooDoo. I'm not. Remember that analogy earlier? Here's where that comes into play.

The second half plays like a manic acid trip into Hell. There are still logic issues (I have to ask why a voodoo punishment so strongly resembles a Christian Hell?), but I enjoyed the top-tier extreme haunted house presentation enough to be more than willing to suspend that disbelief and enjoy the ride. There is serious love put into the 30 minutes that our busty protagonist spends shrieking her way through Hell, and it won me over. Even when it goes straight into creepily uncomfortable territory, like the lecherous uncle or the matriarchal intestine consumption, I applaud the testicular fortitude and love of shock horror on display.

VooDoo isn't kidding around. It may take a little over half of the movie to find its footing and give chase, but by God it hits the ground running and nips at your heels. As a freshman from effort from Costabile, I have no major criticism. No one hits a homerun the first time out, but a single with some sauce on it is a damn good way to start.



Movie: 2.5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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