Spirit Trap
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir David Smith
scr Phil O'Shea
with Billie Piper, Luke Mably, Sam Troughton, Emma Catherwood, Alsou, Chiké Okonkwo, Ovidiu Matesan, Chetu Birau Miruna, Kitt Smith, Oxana Moravec, Gillian Scotney, Robert Goodman
release UK 12.Aug.05
05/UK 1h31

Haunted house: Troughton and Piper (above), Catherwood and Mably (below)
Spirit Trap There's nothing particularly original in this British teen thriller--it's fairly standard haunted house stuff, really. But a high energy level and a willingness to go way over the top makes it quite entertaining.

Five young people move into a massive house with a murderous past. Jenny and Nick (Piper and Troughton) are art students, Tom and Adele (Mably and Catherwood) are a strained couple into drugs and kinky sex, Tina (Alsou) keeps to herself. First they notice mysterious things in the house, such as a Russian spirit clock that supposedly bridges our world and the next. And a talkative ouija board. Fortunately, Jenny has psychic experiences in her shadowy past, so can explain everything. Until she starts having freaky "someone must die!" dreams. Then someone actually says, "It's starting."

Right from the lively opening credit sequence, we know director Smith's main goal is to crank up the gothic atmosphere. The music and the camera both swoop and prowl incessantly as the young people carry on their goofy and thoughtless hijinks, oblivious to the fact that they're in a horror flick and probably doomed to some gruesome fate. It's actually quite funny and engaging, loaded with red herrings and silly jolts, plus voices in the night, creaks, spiders, eerie artefacts, loads of secrets, disgruntled ghosts, evil time-space loops and, of course, a general obsession with sex at all the wrong times.

Then the house comes to life and it all starts getting completely overwrought. Smith directs with a kinetic and aggressive assurance, keeping us both gripped and disoriented. The cast is superb in a kind of stereotypical sort of way; Piper proves that she can hold her own on the big screen, and Mably makes a terrific slimeball. Meanwhile, the action-packed plot merrily twists and turns, and the effects are simple and inventive. It's not terribly scary, but it is grisly good fun, and so loud that we're always on the edge of our seats.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 2.Aug.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Spirit Trap josephine louis, london, england: 5/5 "great film, action & suspense throughout. All the actors were great, but loved luke mabley's role. does luke mably have a fan club?" (30.Jan.09)
© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall