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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

A Lawyer Gets Skewered

Spell (2020) on IMDb

Plot Overview

cop writing ticketThirty-something black family man Marquis “Marq” T. Woods (Omari Hardwick) lives in a fortified redoubt in the suburbs where he finesses a stuck door for, and a romantic moment with, his black bitch Veora “V” (Lorraine Burroughs.) He's a BSD closer associate at a big city law firm where he finesses racially sensitive class action law­suits. He's called back to West Virginia to pay his final respects to his old man. Locka­more County Sheriff black Tom Pines (Tumisho Masha) accosts Marq in his single engine plane at a pit stop in Lemona “to make sure every­thing is copacetic.”

spice bottlesThe elderly black man (Leo Wringer) running Mammy Carter's Country Store offers to sell Marq some potions (“for protection from folks lookin' to conjure your ass,”) but Marq isn't interested (“Suit your­self.”) A thunder­storm way­lays their plane crashing it at Cypress Ridge. Marq wakes up in bed hobbled in the sewing room of the attic of black hoodoo practitioner Miz Eloise (Loretta Devine)—think “Misery.” A preter­naturally long-lived Afro-Appalachia cult is grooming him for a key role in a “trans­fer­ence of life” ritual (“Oh, my God! They put a spell on me”) come the blood moon in a couple of days.


We are struck by a disparity in cause & effect when Marquis “ran away from Appalachia and didn't look back” to reach the epitome of the American dream in a mere 25 years. You've come a long way, baby! As Marshall Jevons expounds in a novel, “Carlyle disliked economics because he saw free markets as a threat to the social structure in England that kept blacks and others in their place. [He] worried that a market economy would reduce the authority of the English ruling class. And history proved his fears to be well founded” (122-3). Here is a small time but poignant example à la (Prov. 30:24) “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise.”

fishing(Prov. 30:25) “The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” The first step on the road to success is to start earning young, in the summer of one's life. Jevons gives us an example of, “much of the time he would have to perform menial tasks: sweeping the studio, shopping for supplies, preparing canvases, and running various errands for Wheeler. The job would even involve cleaning a large bird cage that housed two parrots” (49). In “Spell” a young man (Tafara Nyatsanza) with a fishing pole is sauntering past the gas station in Lemona where he mis­in­ter­prets a question from Marq's 16-year-old son Tydon (Kalifa Burton) and replies, “Slavery is over, pump your own damn gas.” With that attitude he's not likely to get far on the road to success.

We see Marquis in flashback disciplined by his father asking him, “You some kind of house nigger, boy? You're better than me 'cause you can read your fancy books and all?” Miz Eloise declaimed on her ranch hand Lewis (Steve Mululu) having to be taken down a peg from his “house nigga” status. Now he works in the barn. Marq uses his bare hands to dig up unknown bodies—turned out to be farm animals—buried by Lewis. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty. Must have learned early.

(Prov. 30:26) “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.” Location is important. Marquis a self-styled bush pilot puts his plane down on a dirt strip out­side of Lemona. Signs warn cars, “Caution, yield to all air­craft.” Copilot V reads a note to the cop: “The Civil Aviation Code in West Virginia stipulates that it's legal for any private jet, single engine, to land on any open strip of landing area, private or other­wise.” America is the same way, land of the free. There are lots of regions of opportunity.

(Prov. 30:27) “The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.” It's important to success to have an informal band of allies. Eloise asks, “Do any of us be able to have access to Obama care?” Instead, they look after each other with an old time revival, but using “old time slave magic” rather than the Holy Spirit. J.B. Mozley, D.D., says in a sermon, “false worship had grown common; and what is common passes off as legitimate in the eyes of the great majority of men. The Jews had even united this false worship with the true, as if both were much the same thing; they had introduced idolatrous images, and vessels, and altars within the precincts of the temple itself, as if they were all only different modes of wor­ship­ping the same God, and one mode were as good as another” (241–2).

Marquis did well to get out of Dodge, but he'll still need allies wherever he goes, and he has none of his father's left. His current (White) boss and he don't love each other, only their mutual economic benefit. For that matter his wife says she hates him, but he does “love that ass”: I think they're just funnin'. His secretary announces a puzzling caller on the phone; Marquis doesn't know any lawyer by that name, but it's a family matter. So he doesn't have any friends out­side his professional sphere, not ones who would call him at work any­way. While he doesn't have a nexus of friends, he seems to have a nexus of enemies judging by his fortified home. Society is racist and he's an Oreo: black on the out­side, white on the inside.

He redeems himself at the impoverished gas station by being polite to the counter­man and giving him a most generous tip. He'll ultimately avail himself of the guy's advice by fighting fire with fire.

(Prov. 30:28) “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.” The final step is to take some initiative. Marquis was clever enough with his hands to extract his wife from the room with the stuck door, and to roam his captor's house and turn the tables on her. The movie isn't long enough to deal with the expected after­math from people of Appalachia notorious for their blood feuds, who are likely to pick one with a boy unable to outgrow his anger that his dad couldn't beat out of him.

Production Values

” (2020) was directed by Mark Tonderai. It was written by Kurt Wimmer. It stars Omari Hard­wick, Loretta Devine, and Lor­raine Bur­roughs. Lead actor Hard­wick carried the movie well through­out. The supporting cast pulled off their minor roles, but their character development was mostly non-existent. Steve Mululu played a big ole country boy reminding me of Lurch.

MPAA rated it R for violence, disturbing/bloody images, and language. As some­one who once suffered a foot injury, I can vouch that they're really painful; Marquis was well prepared with severe beatings by his dad to endure one. The flash­backs look cheap and the plane crash contrived. Music was by Ben Onono. Song­writer Jay Hawkins's tune, “I Put A Spell On You” set the mood big time.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

“Spell” was mercifully brief at 1½ hours. It was well-done for a B-movie, but it didn't have much of a cringe factor for bad dreams, or even for hate­ful thoughts. What's the point of a horror movie if it doesn't disturb? At least the ladies criticized the profanity-laden speech of the men (and of one bird.)

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Wake up and smell the 1990s technology. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations were from the King James Version. Pub. 1611. Rev. 1769. Software.

Jevons, Marshall. The Mystery of the Invisible Hand. Prince­ton, NJ: Prince­ton UP, 2014. Print.

Mozley D.D., J.B. Sermons Parochial and Occasional. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1880. Print.