Friday, December 03, 2010

Voodoo Nightmare – review

Director: Djinn

Release date: 2001

Contains spoilers

The trouble with the Blair Witch Project is that every man and his dog thought they could emulate it and, let’s be honest, the original was pretty much pants – a success of viral marketing over content.

This owes a stylistic nod to the Blair Witch Project (though most of the hand held camera work would have been done by an unnamed party rather than one of the characters) and, if I tell you that it’s other name is Return to Pontianak then you’ll know what it is about… ish… You see a legend at the head tells us that Pontianak is a village. It is only later that it makes reference to the traditional Malay spirit (though writer/director Djinn seems to change the rules).

Hiep Thi Le Aas Charity
It begins with a girl, Charity (Hiep Thi Le) dreaming of a beggar woman, it appears. Later we discover that this is a dream of her birth mother and she has left for Malaysia to find her as she has had a premonition. What this means is never really answered, it is just the flimsy context to get her there.

Luc and Uzi
She is searching for her with the help of Raymond (Victor Khong), internet geek, whom she met online as he designed her website. He is an annoying, overly cheerful, nerd with a tendency to histrionics. He has invited along, to Charity’s chagrin, his friends Luc (Steve Banks), described in film as a “whinging English vodka-Redbull addict” and boy he can whinge. There is Uzi (Eleanor Lee) an ex-stewardess and rave junky and finally there is the “dubious” guide Eye (Fadali).

Fadali as Eye
Seriously, a group of more annoying people you have never met. You literally pray for the Pontianak to come and get them and put them out of our misery. However, for the first half of the film nothing happens, bar them getting more and more and more annoying as they trek through jungle trying to find a village. During this time Luc disrespects what I think was meant to be a grave marker – is this the cause of their woes, who knows? More pertinently, who cares?

evil eyes
Eventually they find a hut but no one is about. Raymond takes it on himself to nosey around inside and misses the evil looking eyes watching him. It turns out to belong to an old man who doesn’t seem to like his hut being snooped around. As it is, whilst Eye tries to get directions off him we discover that Luc has a bit of a fever.

water turns to blood
He goes to get a drink, scoops some water into a glass and it turns to blood. When he drops it, it is water again but he forgets his hallucination as he sees something under the hut. Uzi can see nothing but then a girl appears. She seems distant and eerie and the old man drags her into the hut and beats her. Eye has discovered that if they follow a stream it’ll lead to civilisation.

Raymond decapitated
Well, Eye vanishes off with all Raymond’s gear and so they go off randomly (and yet in the right direction) into the jungle to look for him. Suddenly all the bad activities a horror film promises are crammed into the film. They find Raymond decapitated for a start off – we then see (in a vision) that the attack was carried out by the old man. Next we see him casting a black magic spell.

the Bomoh
Actually the old man is (the legend at the end tells us) a Bomoh (or witchdoctor) and, despite that the Bomoh and Pontianak traditions don’t normally cross over, according to the film Pontianaks are women killed in childbirth (or through abuse) who return as undead controlled by Bomoh. His spell takes over Luc, who vomits insects and then dashes Uzi’s brains out. We then see Luc gutted, presumably by the Pontianak who in turn then gets Eye. The Pontianak’s face going yucky when she attacks.

As for Charity… well you’ll have to sit through the film like I had to. Annoying characters and hinted motivations (was it because of the grave marker, entering the hut, witnessing the beating or just malevolence that caused the Bomoh to act the way he did? What did Charity’s ‘vision’ have to do with it?), horrible camera work, poor acting and little to no action through most of the film (and no tension either). Poor. 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Christine said...

Sounds like terrible imitation of terrible movie.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I guess, compared to Blair Witch, there is something out there but generally you are correct Christine

Elgart said...

Wanna check his out!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Elgart, its certainly flying around on disc in the US, whether it is out in the philippines I don't know. Hope you get to see it though