Spirit Trap

Dir: David Smith
Star: Billie Piper, Luke Mably, Emma Catherwood, Sam Troughton

Nudity! Adult content! Doctor Who's assistant! Sadly, the first two and the third never quite end up occupying the same space, and the end result lurches from mediocrity to tedium and on into a laughable climax. Who knew lynchings, carried out by mobs with torches, took place in Edwardian North London suburbs? Five cliches, thinly disguised as students, move into a house: one's a drug-dealer, another (Piper) is a 'sensitive', a third has a mysterious past, and so on. They soon find themselves plagued by the usual mysterious events, apparently centered around a grandfather clock in the hall. If only one of them had thought to - oh, I dunno - read the journal which one of them pulls out of the clock almost as soon as they arrive, because that would explain absolutely everything, and save both them and us the rest of the film.

The underlying idea isn't bad, not least that all the characters are responsible for a death in one way or another; that could have made for an interesting kind of revenge flick, especially with the supernatural overtones. However, none of the potential is realized, with the characters insufficiently developed, and the storyline predictable when it isn't simply ludicrous. Piper does the best with the material and actually manages to make her character somewhat sympathetic, but you wonder why they bother with the long, lengthy build-up that precedes any significant action, since there isn't one who could not be adequately defined by their first scene. Twenty years ago, this would not have passed muster, even in the heyday of video, when anything (more or less) in focus got released. Now, there are any number of better movies that should be occupying the spot on cable or at your local store.

[September 2008]

Dead dogs lie
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