I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to watch VooDoo. As a child of the 80s, voodoo was a popular theme in horror movies. I went into it with memories of Angel Heart and The Serpent and the Rainbow, two excellent voodoo themed horror movies. Alas, VooDoo did not live up to the high standard set by those films. In fact, for a movie titled VooDoo, there really isn’t all that much actual voodoo involved.
VooDoo is a “found-footage” horror film, which can immediately turn some people off. I personally don’t mind the “found-footage” approach to horror, as long as it is done well. Films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity showed that these types of films can be very entertaining and scary. In order for these types of movies to work, however, there must be some believable reason as to why things are being filmed, and VooDoo really fumbles the ball on this.
There were times when I was left wondering why anyone would be filming some of this stuff. Who sets up a camera to record themselves getting ready for bed? What kind of a weirdo sets a camera in the grass to record an impromptu makeout session with a person you met hours earlier? Worse yet, there are times when you simply wonder who the heck is holding the camera since all of the characters are being filmed. These are not questions you want your audience asking themselves when watching this sort of film.
VooDoo starts with a shocking sequence that sets up the promise of something dark. However, once the opening sequence has finished and the opening credits are done, the movie spends an extremely boring half hour introducing its cast. Dani, our protagonist, is a southern girl from New Orleans trying to escape from relationship drama. She has decided to spend a month visiting her cousin, Stacy, in Los Angeles. The rest of the characters are completely unlikeable and have little-to-no impact on the story, so you can easily forget them as I already have.
Dani has decided to film her entire trip to L.A. with a camera that was given to her by her father. The idea of a young woman walking around L.A. with an actual video camera instead of just using her phone to record things is easily one of the most unbelievable things in this movie, and that is saying a lot. Stacy and Dani spend most of the first act getting drunk and high, and very little happens.
We learn a bit of backstory on the cousins which comes into play during the third act, and we get a somewhat amusing cameo by porn legend Ron Jeremy. At times, this part of the movie borders on unwatchable. I started to feel like I was just watching a bunch of videos on some random girl’s Instagram page. Finally, after the longest half hour in movie history, the second act comes along to add some excitement to the proceedings.
The second act of the film begins with the first attempt at a jump-scare. I say “attempt” because it did not cause fear but rather a fit of laughter. While filming herself getting ready for bed, Dani accidentally hits the night vision button instead of turning the camera off. While the camera is in night vision mode, we realize that Dani is not alone in her bedroom. I actually had to rewind the movie and watch this brief scene again, because it was so bad. When the camera goes to night vision, we see 2 creatures in the room with her, and one is clearly a man wearing a cheap Halloween mask from the local Halloween store. I actually laughed quite a bit, which was welcome because it was the only entertainment the film had given me to this point.
VooDoo turns into a pretty standard “found-footage” horror film at this point. Strange things start happening in the house and Dani starts running around with her camera filming the creepiness and screaming the whole way. Little did I know she would spend the whole second half of the movie screaming and crying. There are some legitimately creepy things going on, and as Dani screams and cries, events start to progress very quickly. Too quickly. At one point I actually said out loud, “Slow down, movie. You still have another half hour, you are going to run out of steam!” It was shortly after this that VooDoo took a sharp left turn into crazy town.
The third act is honestly the only reason to watch VooDoo, and if it had been executed better it could have saved the movie. I don’t want to give away the twist but will say something occurs which leads the movie to a locale that I don’t think has ever been tackled in a “found-footage” horror film. The problem is that you soon realize that there isn’t enough budget to make this portion of the film work. What should have been a really interesting journey ends up feeling like you are following a screaming, weepy girl through a “haunted house” at Halloween.
By the end, it really starts to feel cheap and a bit silly. The actors and the special effects just aren’t up to snuff. Also, in the last 15 minutes, you can really tell certain scenes have been drawn out to pad the run-time. At one point, the screen is black for so long that I actually thought something had happened to the video. The penultimate scene of the movie, which I think was supposed to be shocking and scary, was instead uncomfortably long and a little funny. Which is about all I can say without ruining the third act entirely. Shortly after that scene, the film completely runs out of steam and ends in a very predictable way.
What I Liked
The twist that brings on the third act.
What I Didn’t Like
The special effects.
The execution of the third act.
Dani’s awful 45-minute screaming and crying fit.
VooDoo Overall 3/10
If you really like horror films, you might get some enjoyment from this, especially if you like horror films that play with religious iconography. I would recommend fast forwarding through the first act though.
VooDoo is available to stream on Amazon Prime. On 9/11/18 it will also be releasing on DVD.