New Horror Releases: VooDoo (2017) - Reviewed

The found footage subgenre is a common go to for filmmakers trying to produce a low budget indie horror film. The popularity of The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity franchise has resulted in an overabundance of movies being released that follows this format, resulting in a subgenre that has become exhausted and tiresome. It’s very difficult to come up with an idea that is creatively different from the rest of the pack. Writer and director Tom Costabile has managed to deliver something that is fairly unique to the subgenre in VooDoo. Despite its unusual themes and extremely perverse third act, it suffers from a tedious first half and a pair of unlikeable main characters. 

The story is about the young Dani, who travels to Los Angeles to visit her cousin Stacy. She left behind a troubled relationship that also involves an angry voodoo priestess. Her problems follow her to California, with everything being documented with the camera that she brought with her. The use of voodoo is fresh, even though most of the scares follow the normal ghost and demon tropes. It begins as a found footage picture and then the third act completely flips things around and falls somewhere between torture porn and a Hellraiser type of gimmick. Besides an opening prologue, not much action happens until nearly halfway through the picture. The actual plot or back story is casually thrown in during partying and jaunts around Los Angeles and Venice. The biggest issue is that the main character comes off as being completely obnoxious and unlikeable and you can’t help but root for her to be killed off. Her poor attempt at a New Orleans accent and the dialogue only makes it worse, with the only redeemable quality being that she is attractive. That isn’t quite enough to make the audience root for her or feel compassion towards her plight. 

Because it is a found footage flick, there isn’t anything particularly exciting about the camera work. There is a great deal of shaky camera footage that is typically expected from the subgenre. Without spoiling any of the plot, it is highly questionable as to why the camera continues following the lead character in the final act. It changes from being found footage to some kind of sick voyeur watching her being physically and emotionally tortured. The sound design is probably the most effective aspect of this production, which was done by veteran sound designer Frank Seraphine. There are multiple layers of voices and noises built up that are reminiscent of various occult and demonic films. 

There is more than enough blood and gore to satisfy most gore fans, with a third act that pushes the limits of decency. It will easily offend many weak skinned viewers and should be avoided by anyone that cannot handle scenes depicting rape and various dark thematic elements. The picture does have several scenes that contain shoddy special effects that are most likely due to a low budget and also going over budget and over schedule. 

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While VooDoo does differ conceptually from most of its found footage predecessors, it suffers in other avenues that make it hard to strongly recommend.

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