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Case Number 19205: Small Claims Court

The Spell

Celebrity Video // 2009 // 84 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 2nd, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson cast a spell on his dog and turned it into a turnip. If the tabloid reports are to be trusted, that is.

The Charge

You can't hide from what's inside you.

The Case

There it is, the dreaded "Based on a True Story" claim, pasted on the front of the disc case. That word "based" can be stretched as much as the filmmaker wants. Only if "loosely" was plopped in front or, if you're going to go all in, replace it all with "inspired by true events," then you can get away with anything as long as you have just a scrap of truth attached to the story. Like maybe the neighbor's dog name is the same.

The alleged true story here has to do with a young girl named Jenny who is convinced that she's been seeing demons in the middle of the night. And these visions may or may not be connected to the menacing occult rituals her ex-boyfriend performed nude. Freaking out, Jenny looks for all manner of help from medical professionals to clergy and comes up empty on all fronts. Next stop, the mental hospital!

So how it goes for Owen Carey Jones' effort. Jones produced and wrote and directed this mild occult thriller, an overseas import that sticks out not because of any unsettling supernatural or devil-worshipping imagery but for its decent examination of a girl who's on a slow burn to a total nervous breakdown.

If it's a monster mash you're after, you won't find any scares, save for the unflattering shots of the actors' bare rear ends. Jones is far more interested in the stressful effects on a young woman completely losing her shiznit. As a character study, The Spell works. While it won't unveil any startling new insights into the human condition, the production is well-executed and Rebecca Pitkin delivers an effective performance as the girl in question.

In fact, the occult stuff detracts from the experience. I get how it adds the paranormal wrinkle that moves discs off the rental shelves, but the rituals themselves were so hokey, they distract from the more mature themes explored in the rest of the film.

That's all I've got. The Spell is mildly interesting and decently staged, but something I will completely forget about next week.

The DVD: a clean 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, 2.0 stereo and no extras. Actually, no scene selection either.

The Verdict

Not Guilty, but I've already lost interest.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Celebrity Video
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Foreign

Distinguishing Marks

• None


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