London Voodoo (2003)
Voodoo. It's a scary thing. Even James Bond was powerless against it, and that's saying something (although giving Jane Seymour a richly-deserved seeing-to seemed to ward it off for a while). So what would happen if voodoo was alive and well and being performed in London? That's the question being asked by London Voodoo. The title sort of gives it away, really.
Coming across as a mixture of Night Of The Eagle (wife up to witchly nonsense without the express say-so of hubby), Dream Demon (nasty low-jinks in the cellar) and The Devil Rides Out (possession, warding off of evil etc), London Voodoo is very old fashioned (there's not even much gore or nudity) but strangely compelling.
It tells the tale of Lincoln (Doug Cockle - Reign Of Fire) and Sarah (Sara Stewart - most recently seen in the last series of Auf Weidersehn Pet), an American couple new to London (you can tell they're American because they don't know what a "whatnot" is and they immediately drape a stars n' stripes over a shelf; you can tell it's London because - hooray - there's the Houses Of Parliament). We've already seen a burning effigy and a voodoo ritual, so right from the start the film has at least lived up to its name (unlike, for example, A Clockwork Orange or Brides Of Dracula).
After installing a fax machine (what year is this?) they're good to go - although Sarah remarks that "it seems like a hotline to the devil to me "
It's worth pointing out here that both Lincoln and Sarah are white. There's no getting around it, in fact Lincoln himself is pretty freckly as well. And as they settle in to their new home, they keep meeting black people. Far from being a wonderful example of what a marvellously multi-cultural society we find ourselves in, this actually has something to do with the plot. Who is the strange black woman who dreams of a man with blood pouring from his mouth, before uttering "he's threatening us "? Is Kelly (Vonda Barnes), the new home help, something to do with all this voodoo nonsense? What does the strange black man who knocks on the front door want? Something pretty important, I'd warrant - it's not every day you get told "Your family is in danger! Your wife is possessed! She has your wife's body! She is a warrior!"
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Lincoln's new job starts to take up most of his time, and Sarah finds herself stuck at home with the baby (Beth) and the aforementioned Kelly. During his limited time at home, Lincoln manages to impress the slightly-odd Kelly, who begins to have designs on him. And a couple of workmen manage to uncover a strange block in the cellar floor, which appears to be hiding something
Before they have a chance to smash it and see, the lights blow and one of them manages to injure himself quite spectacularly in the ensuing darkness. With the two builders rushed off to hospital, it's down to Sarah to investigate. She breaks open the block and something appears to escape. However, when Lincoln returns home she's fine, and itching to show him what she's uncovered - a voodoo grave complete with two bodies. "Scary, eh?"
Things start to get a bit odd at this point. Kelly's infatuation grows, and Sarah starts picking up toenail clippings, covering herself with food and trying to seduce the builders. The history of the house is revealed - two people died in a fire there in 1902 - and the local white witch (who is in fact white) joins up with the black couple (who know what's going on) to try and save Sarah from the spirit which is gradually taking possession of her body. Meanwhile (as if all that wasn't enough), Sarah is trying (unsuccessfully) to get Lincoln to sleep with her ("faggot!" she screams, "if you won't fuck me I'll find someone else who will!" - always a great way to get your husband in the mood, ladies). And Kelly (unsuccessfully) is also trying to get the poor guy to sleep with her - even resorting to a quick bit of poisoning of Sarah, which she eventually fails to go through with.
Lincoln eventually goes to the white witch for help, as Sarah idles away her time passing water into pots on the kitchen floor (delightful) - and the scene is set for some effective black magic mumbo jumbo to finish the whole thing off.
London Voodoo is actually a very straightforward tale of possession and human redemption - but in these days of irony, self reflection and high concept, this is quite refreshing. If there is such a thing as "Old Skool" Brit horror, then London Voodoo might be it. Whether there's still an audience for such films remains to be seen, but it would be lovely to think there is.
Last updated: February 24, 2010
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