In my mind, Danny Trejo is nothing short of an icon. Playing a wide array of characters including the bartender in From Dusk Till Dawn to the bartender in Anchorman, Trejo has kicked more ass in his late 60s than most of us will in our lives – but this macho Mexicano might benefit from being a tad bit pickier about what horror movies he participates in. There should honestly be a Video On Demand category titled “Movies Featuring Danny Trejo,” as so many indie hopefuls plaster Trejo’s name for all to see – no matter how small his part is. Voodoo Possession is simply the latest movie to trick Trejo fans into an ill-fated viewing, scoring Danny for a few quick scenes and then shining his name in lights as if he’s a major player. It’s OK to say “no” every once and a while DT (think that’ll catch on?) – you might actually be doing your die-hard fans a favor.
The dark arts of voodoo practice have created believers and non-believers since the first pin-filled doll, and Voodoo Possession tells the story of a family being tormented by one such spiritual beast – The Tormentor. As children, Aiden (Ryan Caltagirone) and Cody (David Thomas Jenkins) had to deal with the suicide of their mother, but Cody appears to be haunted by something much more disturbing. Moving to Haiti, Cody suddenly vanishes from the insane asylum currently employing him, with his only hope of survival (if that’s still an option) being Aiden. Posing as a television crew member, Cody discovers the deeply rooted beliefs of voodoo magic turning people into babbling maniacs, while the presence of something much more sinister becomes apparent. Aiden is faced with a choice – battle his demons in the spirit world and attempt a daring escape, or leave his brother’s memory behind.
According to Voodoo Possession, nothing is worse than a malevolent being with access to crayons. We start on a disturbingly horrific high note, opening with a flashback sequence featuring the death of Aiden and Cody’s mother, but soon thereafter Walter Boholst’s story starts unraveling at the seams. As far as possession films go, this specific voodoo curse is boring and spineless, offering up nothing but confusion and a bunch of convulsing actors. Characters are treated as mere empty pawns, introduced as cheap kill fodder. Between the hipster chick that’s so stereotypical I wouldn’t even find her in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and our wise-cracking tech guy who reveals what a true bastard he really is, their deaths come and go without even the slightest emotional response, erasing our memories with a quick (avoidable) machete stab.
What about Danny Trejo though?! Cool your jets Machete fans – Trejo shows up via some found footage USB files as the asylum’s caretaker and his only use is to deliver background information. No ass kicking, no good one liners, and no real use for Danny except name exploitation – unless watching Danny Trejo read about voodoo curses is your thing.
Voodoo Possession‘s low budget nature means you’ll be seeing a lot of the same dingy industrial basements complete with rusted walls and peeling paint, a costumed Tormentor reminiscent of cheesy SyFy practicality, character decisions idiotically drawn out that only lead to facepalm-worthy “climaxes,” and a complete lack of vivid continuity. Every ten minutes our voodoo assistant introduces a new spirit level, forcing Aiden even deeper into his nostalgic hell, but instead of accompanying such information with reason and complex intrigue, it simply feels like Voodoo Possession is pulling plot material out of thin air. The only thing separating Boholst’s film from every other weakly constructed possession story is some chanting, a few funky markings, some face paint, and flashy cultist jewelry – none of which demand horror respect.
Voodoo Possession is a flat, lifeless snoozer devoid of any defining horror characteristics. What’s supposed to grab our attention? Danny Trejo’s momentary cameos as a caretaker warning everyone of the voodoo atrocities that await? A black, bubbly monster who can barely move or pose any type of creature feature scares? Dimension traveling characters put in this possessed universe with no purpose but death? A haunting backstory that frustrates more than creates dark sympathy? You’ll have more fun buying some shrunken heads and sacrificing your own chicken in hopes of summoning a true voodoo curse – something actually worth fearing.
Voodoo Possession does not do, that voodoo, it was supposed to do so well.