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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mark Tonderai
Cast:
Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, Lorraine Burroughs
Writing Credits:
Kurt Wimmer

Synopsis:
A man wakes up after surviving an airplane crash and is found by a seemingly kind elderly couple, until he finds their sinister intentions.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Description
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 1/12/2021

Bonus:
• 15 Deleted Scenes
• “The Nightmare Spell” Featurette
• “Rootwork” Featurette
• “The Art of Hoodoo” Featurette


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RELATED REVIEWS


Spell [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 10, 2021)

Given its title, 2020’s Spell could either be a horror story or a tale of kids who compete in spelling bees. It falls into the former category, though I think a scary movie set at a bee could work.

After his father dies, Marquis T. Woods (Omari Hardwick) flies his family to the funeral in remote Appalachia – literally, as Marquis pilots the plane. Due to a storm, however, he loses control of the aircraft.

Eventually Marquis finds himself injured and in the care of Ms. Eloise (Loretta Devine), a kindly older woman, and her husband Earl (John Beasley). However, it turns out that she comes with an ulterior motive.

Ms. Eloise claims she helped treat Marquis with the aid of “the Boogity”, a magical figure she created from Marquis’s own flesh and blood. To save himself and his family, Marquis needs to escape from this situation before the rise of the blood moon dooms them all.

With the voodoo aspects of Spell, one might expect an exotic tale with plenty of mysticism. Instead, Spell plays more like a remake of Misery with some supernatural elements tossed in for good measure.

To some degree, that simplifies matters, as those magical bits don’t exist in Misery, and they occupy a fair amount of Spell. This becomes especially true to deeper into the story we go.

Still, both feature men who become injured in a storm who also get imprisoned by an outwardly nice but inwardly nuts woman. Misery more strongly exists in the real world, but the two still follow fairly parallel paths.

Unfortunately, the comparisons end there, as Misery offers a substantially stronger cinematic experience. Spell feels half-baked and thin.

Really, it barely provides a story. After the mysterious accident – which results in the apparent disappearance of Marquis’s family – we don’t find much of a narrative push, as most of the tale just revolves around the protagonist’s attempts to escape.

Sure, Spell also manages to develop the danger that threatens him, but an awful lot of the movie seems to just focus on his imprisonment and his tedious attempts to deal with these. We get surprisingly little real exploration or development along the way.

This leads to a decidedly slow and dull horror story. It just feels like not much really happens here, so we’re stuck in neutral as we wait for inevitable revelations to occur in the final act.

When these do ultimately materialize, they become too little, too late. The movie fails to generate real scares or tension, so we’re left on a slow path to learn Marquis’s eventual fate.

Spell came with some decent horror potential, but the film couldn’t get past its cliché nature. It becomes a pretty forgettable scarefest.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Spell appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, the movie presented strong visuals.

Across the board, definition seemed good. Even with a mix of low-light sequences, the film appeared accurate and concise, as only a smidgen of slightly soft shots emerged.

Jagged edges and moiré effects didn’t mar the presentation, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

In terms of palette, Sleep went with a heavy teal orientation, though it tossed in more than a little orange/amber as well and some reds. Within stylistic choices, the hues seemed well-depicted.

Blacks were dark and dense, and shadows gave us good clarity. I felt pleased with this transfer.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, it offered a mostly typical horror movie soundscape. This meant a fair amount of creepy atmosphere and occasional “jolt moments”. The storm that downs the play added some involvement, as did later weather-related material.

Along with good stereo music, the soundfield was able to open things up in a satisfying manner that embellished the story. We got a nice sense of various elements along with a useful sense of the spooky bits, some of which worked really well.

Audio quality was always good. Music appeared full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy. Low-end appeared deep and rich.

Speech was natural and distinctive throughout the film. The mix used the speakers well and created a fine sense of the material.

Two featurettes appear. Rootwork: Conjuring Spell spans 17 minutes, 54 seconds and features notes from prosthetics workshop supervisor Matthew Howard-Tripp and actors Loretta Devine, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Burroughs, John Beasley, Steve Mululu, Kalifa Burton and Hannah Gonera.

“Rootwork” looks at story/characters, cast and performances, makeup effects and working with director Mark Tonderai. Though we get a few decent notes, much of “Rootwork” feels superficial.

Next comes The Art of Hoodoo. a 12-minute, 49-second piece that offers remarks from Burroughs, Gonera, Hardwick, Burton, Devine, production designer Paula Loos, and costume designer Danielle Knox.

“Art” examines sets and locations as well as production and costume design. This becomes a pretty good look at the various subjects.

15 Deleted Scenes take up a total of 26 minutes, 51 seconds. These include a little character exposition and a few more attempts at ominous atmosphere/scares.

However, they tend to feel pretty superfluous. A few minor action beats result but none of these clips seem memorable.

The Nightmare Spell runs three minutes, 10 seconds and offers a form of short film. Essentially it acts like a teaser for the film, as it shows Marquis’s situation. I’m not sure what purpose it intends to serve.

On the surface, Spell shows room to create a good supernatural horror tale. Unfortunately, it sticks with a sluggish narrative and cinematic clichés, all of which leave it as a pretty mediocre film. The Blu-ray offers solid picture and audio along with a smattering of bonus materials. Spell can’t find the creativity it needs to prosper.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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