When mentioning the phrase “found footage” a mixture of responses follows the average horror fan genre some love it and others reject it overall, needless to say, likely a lasting impression with filmmakers, and used in this provoking Voodoo film. Director and writer Tom Costabile implements suggestions of the voodoo religion and combines with a twisted version of Judeo-Christian involving their reference to Hell. The passion or the subgenre, allows limited budgets to flourish, first time directors to complete a feature, and stretch storylines. For a while in the horror genre, zombie films dominated and saturated the market, in at times surge again, but lately the found footage flicks also flood the market. These movies generate a theory of realistic situations, fluid cinematography and obviously spoiled conclusions however, that the last option does not exist directly apparently for Costabile’s movie concerning filming a daughter getaway to California.
The film starts oddly with a killing of a mother and then daughter (though a slight foot twitch long after death and vicious stabbing) and voodoo and blackish magic spell conjuring demonic force to curse upon Dani (Samantha Stewart). It is from this point the video camera point of view goes into effect, as Dani Lamb’s father insisted she take it to film the entire trip, leaving New Orleans, this aspect becomes problematic later in the movie. She’s there to visit her cousin Stacy (Ruth Reynolds) in Los Angeles California, at a house shared by two other guys called Trey (Daniel Kozul) and Spencer (Dominic Matteucci), who all belong to a band. During the first night just like a typical tourist time to visit the hotspots, face most people actually do that dismissing it foolish. Quickly one loses self-respect and care for Dani and her new buds, something negative feedbacks to the viewer. Later the first night, they film elements of smoking illegal drugs, and visiting the legendary club The Rainbow, a popular hangout for the late Lemmy Kilmister. A brief cameo from Ron Jeremy, a well-known porn star and crossover to horror small bit parts shows up abruptly to offer Dani a place in a porno and later in a misguided attempt for comic relief the weirdest dancing. It is here one learns the backstory on Dani, her mother dying and her ex-lover Frank, a married guy to a voodoo priestess, who went to her workplace curse her in a strange language. The following day, Dani encounters a make out session with a lot of groping, unsure if the filming of all this debauchery likely becomes a positive for her father entertainment, when he sees the tape. Then given a weird night vision shot, it helps to ride out the first 40-minutes of the movie, and a curious beach scene involving Stacy’s body transitioning. The camera conveniently placed and questions why someone would film walking down streets and lying on beaches, it truly drags on the overall production.
The second half of the movie truly feels the ramping up of turmoil and chaos, and constitutes as if two different movies are spliced together. Dani wakes up to the sound of drums in the middle of the night, and everything becomes insane rich in the scene of an entryway to hell; she stands at the threshold of damnation. A series of graffiti-covered stairwells with the word “Hell” and inverted pentagrams among other designs spooky black silhouette with blazing red eyes, slamming doors, and plenty of screams. All before dragged into hell, and a demon holds the camera for what unknown reason. Quickly enough, actions from other demons involving raping nuns, an abortion and feeding on a fetus , and some weird child abuse of molester and little girl (why is the child there) no reasons given. Everything shown in bright red and constant scream, growls, and inverted cross, before Dani raped by Satan figure all recorded on the camera. One can only assume Dani’s Daddy definitely likely to find entertainment with this footage.
Sadly, one needs to admit the story becomes muddled for the film, and takes a great deal of time to hit the right groove, likely losing a core of the audience. However, for those that stay with the movie, may find comfort in the special effects, and costumes as the crew delivers on the limitations of the budget. The acting, doesn’t feel rehearsed or professional, natural y required here, though their constant screaming tends to ware on many levels. Needless to say, the second half of the second generates the most powerful reactions positive and negative from both practitioners of the Voodoo religion and Christians in general, and regard to why the innocent occupied a place in hell – i.e. the child. A subtle reference to religion comes in the form of Dani’s last name, Lamb, referencing the sacrifice and a term used often in both general horror movies and those of religious tones, in very demeaning or even humiliating moments on film. Oh, by the way, the demon who films in hell delivers some nifty cinematography skills.
Costabile’s movie gives very good illusions and becomes a movie not relying on just the cursory glances of voodoo, nor following that of The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), rather delivers a refreshing movie, but still a found footage movie. While the shock and awe form many depictions of hell, one, might become a tad lost in them, especially since it is Dani’s past behavior to condemn everyone around her, one must truly suspend the rational thoughts and embrace a tormented trip in Hell.