18 March 2004 | rosana-4
Whilst Rob Pratten has to be commended for making a truly independent british horror film, the end result, like most British independent horror films is a mixed bag in which the film makers undeniable talent and ambition is compromised by a lack of resources and self restraint. Lifting several cliched ideas from The Omen and Amityville Horror, London Voodoo tells the tale of an unlikely American couple who move to London in an attempt to salvage their relationship, but whose fortunes take a turn for the worse when they discover that their new home is haunted by a voodoo spirit. Whilst you can see the commercial logic in writing american characters into the lead roles, the unknown, ex-pat actors that Pratten cast, both deliver uncharismatic leaden performances and their characters are written in such a heavy handed, unsympathetic way that unfortunately this debut effort falls at the first hurdle. Once you get over this initial disappointment, there are moments and contributions that suggest what could have been, particularly Trisha Mortimer as the 'love-keeper' who manages to breath life into Prattens inconsistant dialogue and Voda Barnes who although over-written is suitably sexy as the Au-Pair. Comic relief is provided by the two decorators and supporting afro-carribean cast add flavour to otherwise dull proceedings. Also worthy of note are the businessmen in the office scenes, which demonstrate that when Pratten is not trying to make a load of spookery convince, he's actually quite a good writer/director. Shot hand held on 16mm with basic lighting the film has the look of a television special, the locations are functional as opposed to aesthetic and the synthesised score home-spun and cliched. The best production values can be found in the voodoo paraphanalia which suggest authenticity and a great deal of research. At 98 minutes the film is too long and would benefit tremendously from a ten minute trim, particularly the scenes where various voodoo practioners stop the narrative dead to deliver pages of expository mumbo jumbo in an attempt to give some kind of spiritual context to the proceedings. I gave this film 4 out of 10, shows promise but must try harder.