Review: “Spell” (2020)


Micah Sanders, Staff Reporter/Writer

Spell ★★★★☆

Starring: Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley, Lorraine Burroughs

Lowdown:  A wealthy Black man is trapped in the deep south and must find a way to escape before the blood moon.

MPAA Rating:  R

Where to watch: Amazon, Apple, Vudu, Fandango

Verdict: A nice “spell” was cast upon the acting and plot. Act 3 really brought the movie home and gave a satisfying ending that won’t leave the audience bewildered.

Directed by Mark Tonderai and produced by Paramount Pictures and Paramount Players, “Spell” follows Marquis T. Woods (Omari Hardwick), a wealthy and diligent lawyer, and his family as they take a trip to Appalachia due to the passing of his abusive father. The family takes the trip in a private jet and stops at a gas station just a few miles ahead of their destination. The gas station is very outdated, “southern” and contains very superstitious paraphernalia. Once getting their gas, they continue forward and run into a horrible storm. The storm strikes down the plane and Marquis wakes up injured in an attic with his family nowhere to be found. He gets greeted by a woman named Eloise (Loretta Devine) and later on by her husband Earl (John Beasley) who convinces him that they are the only ones who can help. With the creepy elderly couple monitoring his every move, Marquis must find a way to escape and find his family. Will the Hoodoo stop him dead in his tracks?

While the movie is categorized as horror, many audience members may deem it to be more of a suspenseful thriller. The film was released on Oct. 30 through video demand and premier streaming services with a 91-minute duration.

There was a lack of development to the supporting characters, but the movie did a great job portraying the protagonist’s backstory. Marquis left home at a really young age and never looked back. He became well acclimated to his riches, lived in an affluent neighborhood, and began to resent his black identity and the things attached to it. His son Tydon (Kalifa Burton) is seen to be a normal teenager in this day in age who is attached to his cellular device and music. He was getting bullied in school via social media and that is all of the character development that we see from him. Tydon’s sister Samsara (Hannah Gonera) is a very reserved and quiet daughter who writes in her journal about things unbeknownst to the audience. Marquis’ wife, Veora (Lorraine Burroughs), is seen to be very strict and has a mouth on her. She makes sure to nip any misbehaviors from her children in the bud.

With the introduction of Eloise, the audience learns about a type of craft that she uses called Hoodoo. She tells Marquis about these dolls she makes called “boogity” that help aid people back to good health. The supernatural element of Hoodoo brought an interesting perspective to the movie and is brought to the audience’s attention immediately. Devine’s acting as Eloise successfully captures the right emotion and feel. She makes the character come alive with her mannerisms and tone, adding much-needed suspense to the film. At first, Eloise seems like a kind old lady, but as the movie progresses, she turns into a monster.

The implementation of a majority black cast really makes “Spell” stand out. The acting between each character was superb. Though rated “R,” there wasn’t that much blood and gore except for the graphic foot scene which will really make you cringe.  The camera angles, lighting, and dialogue really build on the suspense factor by giving a  very eerie feel to the movie. Hardwick’s stellar performance as Marquis brought the movie a sense of panic, gluing my eyes to the screen. Though the film has a slow beginning and can be predictable, it makes up for it with the top-notch acting and the conclusion of Act 3.