It’s been 6 years since Eric Mabius appeared in the third installment of The Crow series. Tonight he’s back, and the wardrobe and hairstyle have hardly aged a day. Mabius portrays Cole, a man whose tragic past has led him on a global search for the power to defeat the ultimate evil.
Twenty years ago, Cole and his sister Heather (Charisma Carpenter) were the only known survivors of a massive satanic slaughter. Over the course of one night, their townsfolk all turned on each other destroying every living thing in sight. Blamed on bad drinking water, what actually occurred was far more sinister. Heather soon returned to normal life, slowly coming to grips with the tragedy. Now, she makes a living as a successful artist – albeit one with a surprising secret. She can paint the future. Cole ran away and immersed himself in the religions and spiritualities of the world, in hopes that he could forge the power to destroy that which took all they held dear. The time has now come for brother and sister to join forces, and with the aid of a rag tag band of devoted followers, take their revenge on the demon has tortured them all.
Voodoo Moon is all set up and virtually no payoff. Mabius and Carpenter are heading up an all-genre-star cast – including the great John Amos (Beastmaster), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) and Dee Wallace (Cujo) – but where are they leading them? Mabius is all brood, a move I’ve seen from him before in Black Circle Boys and Resident Evil. In fact Mabius most interesting performances are the ones he gives in smaller independent films like Splendor and Lawn Dogs. Perhaps the third rate Brandon Lee derivative that he puts forth in this project will send him back to directors like Gregg Araki, who can manage to wring a solid portrayal out of the actor.
The plot device of calling together a group of heroes to vanquish evil should have worked like gangbusters, but in the end the assembling of Amos, Combs and Wallace only served to show that their acting skills were to far ahead of the scripting. Frankly Combs’ steals the show either because he has virtually no dialogue or in spite of it. What the trio ultimately provides the film is a masterclass in performance wasted in a bad television pilot. It’s a shame that such talent is exhausted on such cookie cutter filmmaking. But, if the film only offered their joined appearances it would still be worth an observation.
Also on screen and literally just oozing cine-magic is Rik Young (the upcoming Beowulf) whose performance as Daniel/The Devil is as wickedly creepy and it is wonderfully witty. Young is in fact so adept at charming the audience that one can’t help hope he just hurries up and “offs” Cole as soon as possible. Directors take note; this Rik Young guy is screaming leading man status here, look out Orlando Bloom. Carpenter on the other hand, cast – no doubt – to fulfill fanboys desires to see the sexy starlet on hand in another genre project, is utterly wasted in her role. None of the spark that made Carpenter shine so brightly as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is on display here. She moves through the motions and turns in a performance that makes the audience think that she’s stuck in some bad episode of Supernatural – a real waste of a performer who has spent much of her career in series TV and could really use a proper vehicle to boost her big screen status.
Director and former visual effects supervisor Kevin Van Hook scored a coup with his casting choices and lends some semi-solid CGI work to the production, but fails to keep the pace of the film moving along – offering up equal parts too much and too little background. The DVD includes deleted scenes, which I had hoped would clear up a few points, but alas are mostly wasted on further fleshing out Carpenter’s psychic powers. I guess I was just secretly hoping for more scenes with Wallace and Amos.
Included as well on the DVD release is Anchor Bay’s standard 12-minute talking heads “making of”, which, as always is stocked full of spoilers – so – heed the warning before the featurette begins. Also missing from the behind the scenes is any interview footage with Carpenter, instead focusing on Van Hook, producer Karen Bailey and actor Young. An additional few minutes are devoted to the visual effect stylings in the short Black Magic: The Stunts, Make-up and Visual Effects promo. A gallery and some cast and crew bios round out the release.
Voodoo Moon is hardly the worst example of a cast overrunning a film. But for genre fans the idea of a half-hearted version of horrors own Dirty Dozen stock piled with the likes of Jeffrey Combs and Charisma Carpenter is hard to pass up. So, be wary as you venture to the video store – for this voodoo is not very potent.