February 23, 2020

Voodoo Rising (2016) – Them Woods Is Evil

Voodoo Rising (2016)Back in October I reviewed a movie called Scarred written and directed by Eddie Lengyel. Since then I’ve had an opportunity to sit down and interview Eddie and during that conversation I became aware of his next project Voodoo Rising. I’m back again today with a review of that film that has just been released. Director Eddie Lengyel has asked me to keep my review spoiler free so I’ll absolutely respect his wishes.

Voodoo Rising Synopsis

A group of friends decide to spend their last summer together by taking a trip to the rural camping destination “Black Hills”. Once there, they find themselves in the middle of a deadly quarrel with a local family.

Voodoo Rising was written and directed by Eddie Lengyel (Hellweek, Scarred), co-written by Kris Smith and produced by Don Kilrain, Mike Kolovich and Andrew Valentino. It stars April Needham, Sarah Domanick, Don Kilrain, Mark Cray, Shaphan David Seiders, Robert S. Miller, Roger Conners, Silvia Marchena Guillen, Justin E. Sherman, Meghan Bakun, Brenna Roth, Kris Smith, Aaron Tomaselli, Mary Lu Garmone, Lisa Gaetano, Heather Longville, Eddie Lengyel, Lori Ingram, Erinn Bakun and James McGilbray. Check out the new trailer for Voodoo Rising edited by Noelle Bye.

Plot & Thoughts

As I said, I’m going to keep this one spoiler free at Eddie’s request. Jeffrey A. Swanson, President of Voodoo Rising‘s distributor SGL Entertainment said, “I think this could be Eddie’s best film to date.” Let’s see if that’s the case. We start out with a gal dressed in a bikini top running. We see that she’s bloody and when she stops we see a hand grab her from behind with a nice little jump scare. Her fate is determined before the opening credits even roll and sets the tone of the film nicely.

Right off the bat, we’ve got great looking locations here. We’re on farm with lush grass, a barn with horses, etc. It’s shot very, very well. Kudos. The audio of the film leaves quite a bit to be desired throughout. There’s a scene in particular where they cast was in a van headed up to the Black Hills and I had a really difficult time picking out the dialog over the hum of engine and tires on road. The “group” is clearly road tripping and talking about mercury retrograde and how “things will get weird” this weekend.

On their way to the Hills, they pick up a guy (Mark Cray). There’s an issue with him and before you know it he’s out of the car and the group leaves him. Further up the road they stop by the side of the road to get gas. They meet a gal selling stuff and this is the first time I’m getting the “voodoo” vibe off the film. When the lady touches one of the girl’s hands she gets flashes of violence (blood, etc.)

A old guy comes out of nowhere to pull the “It’s not safe to be here” schtick in a clear homage to Crazy “You’re All Doomed” Ralph from Friday The 13th. I believe his exact line was, “Those woods are evil. Pure unadulterated evil.” Good stuff.

Two other girls (part of the same group? I’m not sure but I don’t think so at this point) are on the road and the get pulled over by the sheriff. He seems to be a bad guy and he suggests sexual favors to get them out of the ticket. One of the girls gets out of the car and takes the sheriff into the woods to take care of him. She comes back and seems to have enjoyed herself because she, “Likes a man in uniform.” Um…. what? She likes rape? OK. *shrugs*

A word here… this seems really slow out of the gate. We’re about 25 minutes in and we’re still setting things up.

As they get to the camp ground they almost hit a kid who’s walking through a field. The gal that blew the cop (I caught her name finally… it’s Carley) jumps out of the car and chases after him. Running through the woods following the kid and she runs into the dude from the beginning of the film (that grabbed the first gal). It doesn’t go well for her.

I’m not going to go into too much detail from here on out. What we get is a plot where the kids encounter some weird folks in the woods. Weird is an understatement. They’re some fucked up folks to be sure. It takes quite a bit of time, but by the time the reveal comes and you figure out what’s going on it’s pretty compelling.

The blood and gore here is outstanding. It’s something that I was looking forward to because Eddie did a great job with that in Scarred and he’s carried that through with Voodoo Rising. I had a really difficult time deciphering character names. I’m not sure if I wasn’t listening closely enough, if the audio issues had anything to do with it or what. That said, I didn’t really feel like I needed to know the character’s names to get invested in them.

I did have a line in my notes that I wanted to specifically point out:

“Random characters show up here and there. At this point I’m an hour in and it’s just sort of devolved into random killing, shots of asses, etc.”

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though I realize it sounds like it. This is a fun little horror movie that looks great and is oddly compelling. It feels about 20 minutes too long but it’s not so overdone that it ruins the experience. The end scene is done masterfully. There’s a trial, dancing, babbling and some more blood that gore hounds will absolutely adore.

It’s clear that Eddie is a fan of horror. In addition to the Crazy Ralph homage, I could have sworn I saw a pretty clear homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre when one of the girls is running based on the lighting of the shot. Either that or it was a great coincidence. There are some VERY innovative and bloody kills here which look great. There’s a final swerve in there that I didn’t see coming at all and left me smiling when the credits finally rolled.

Recommendation

Voodoo Rising is the second Eddie Lengyel film I’ve watched and reviewed and it won’t be the last. It’s a tad on the long side as there was quite a bit of exposition leading up to the events that I don’t think quite paid off. That said, once we got into things what we got was a top notch “crazies in the woods” slasher with a story that, while it took nearly till the end of the film to come together, did so in a nice tidy package. As with Scarred, the kills is what sets this movie apart. Many times with indie horror that’s where folks skimp but this crew didn’t do that and it shows. Also the film looks amazing. The locations were perfect and they were shot with precision. Audio issues and timing were the issues here throughout but the positives outweigh the negatives. If you’re looking for a good looking, old fashioned, crazy town folks, blood fest give this one a shot.

Voodoo Rising will be available in the US and Canada on Blu-ray, DVD, Comcast Xfinity Cable TV and the Top VOD Sites like iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, M-GO and more in 2016 via SGL Entertainment with their partners MVD Visual and Indie Rights Distribution.

For more information on Voodoo Rising check out the following links:

Give them a like and tell em ScareTissue sent you. Have you seen Voodoo Rising? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Chewie

Chewie

I've been a fan of horror and slasher movies for as long as I can remember. I consider the original Halloween to be the best horror movie of all time and my guilty pleasure horror flick would be The Exorcist III. You can find me on Twitter at @406Northlane where I'm sure I'll offend you at least once a day.

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