Thomas Wolfe was right. You can’t go home again.
Just ask Marquis Woods (Omari Hardwick), an affluent African-American who crashes his plane squarely in the distant past in director Mark Tonderai’s Spell.
Marquis has grown up from a dirt-poor Appalachian childhood into a powerhouse big city lawyer with a handsome family. Upon learning of the death of his estranged father back in the hills, he packs up the wife and kids and flies everyone down South.
Foul weather causes the single-engine plane to drop out of the sky, and when Marquis regains consciousness he is an injured house guest of Miss Eloise (Loretta Devine), a witchy woman who uses magic herbs and a hoodoo doll to keep him immobilized, awaiting a Blood Moon ritual to transfer her essence into a younger body, or something like that.
The lion’s share of Spell is about Marquis’s grueling quest to escape from Miss Eloise and her minions, that’s reminiscent of James Caan trying to vanquish Kathy Bates in Misery.
Eventually Marquis realizes he’s going to have to fight fire with fire and reaches back into his own distant memories for the incantations his father taught him. “You got to believe to make it work,” his father’s shade tells him.
Though he claims on numerous occasions not to believe any of his father’s magical madness, desperation and rage transform Marquis into a practitioner capable of battling Miss Eloise to a standstill.
There’s no shortage of horror movies about urbanites having to fight their way out of a backwoods hellhole, but Spell is the first one I’ve seen with an all-black cast.
It makes for a provocative and offbeat point of view in a film that I recommend taking for a spin.