Look, I knew what I was getting into with Voodoo Moon. The title alone has a "kill it with fire" feel, and the Netflix reviews were none too kind. But Pop Punishment is all about embracing the bad, and that means low-budget straight-to-DVD clunkers, too. I will say that I judge movies like Voodoo Moon by a different standard: sure, I could sit here and criticize the low production values, including some of the worst CGI I've seen outside a George Lucas movie. But Voodoo Moon didn't have the money to do much better.
So rather than shoot fish in a barrel, let's stick to the complaints we can fairly lodge against the film-namely that Voodoo Moon doesn't make a lick of sense. The movie flubs its mythology repeatedly, refusing to commit to voodoo (or moons, for that matter) and forcing its heroes to face off against a baffling adversary. Is he the devil? Is he a zombie master? Is he a werewolf? (That last one seems unlikely, but hey, might as well cover all my bases.)
Voodoo Moon stars Ugly Betty's Eric Mabius, rendered completely unappealing by long, greasy hair and a fake scar covering half his face. Mabius plays Cole, who saw his parents slaughtered along with the rest of his town when an evil force took control. Now as an adult, he joins with his sister Heather (Buffy's Charisma Carpenter) and other allies to take the mysterious being out. Let's call him Daniel.
If I sound vague, that's a reflection on Voodoo Moon's inconsistency. The movie begins in Haiti, so OK, voodoo, but as it progresses, Cole starts spouting a lot of biblical nonsense. The big bad eventually goes by Daniel and speaks with an English accent-I thought it was fake, but apparently actor Rik Young does hail from the UK! So what's his deal? If he's just a general embodiment of evil, why do so many religious practices seem to work against him?
Allow Cole to explain-it's the combination of Christianity, shamanism, and voodoo that does the trick. Seriously. "It's like I've tapped into the very core of faith itself," he says. As an agnostic, I can appreciate the idea that no one religion has it right, but um, I'm not exactly sure how throwing them all together is supposed to do the trick. It sounds a lot more like a half-assed explanation that allows Voodoo Moon to jump around from a remote village in Haiti to a church where a possessed priest tortures a girl. Like Cole's religion buffet, the idea is that while none of these stories work alone, the combination is unbeatable.
I guess my frustration is this-I don't really care why Daniel is so intent on wreaking havoc. Sometimes evil creatures are evil just because. But Voodoo Moon is intent on presenting its conflict as an epic battle. We get Heather saying things like, "You can't just pluck me out of my life to have me fight some psychic holy war against the devil." And in the climactic fight, Daniel admonishes Cole, "There's a pit in hell for adulterers." So wait, is this dude embracing sin or condemning it? Doesn't matter. There's fire and brimstone and it's very dramatic!
Then there are everyone's confusing powers. Heather can apparently draw the future. Cole can, at various times, float and make other people float. He also bleeds when his friends are injured, which is a pretty crappy trick. "Variation of stigmata, I guess," Mary Ann (Dee Wallace) posits. "Instead of Christ's pain your body manifests wounds when you lose people close to you." Yeah, OK. Oh, and Daniel does all sorts of freaky shit, like growing vines from his body, making the sky rain stones, and shooting lightning out of his fingers a la Emperor Palpatine. He also turns into crows.
I can deal with a lot of badness, but inconsistency is one of those things that irks me to no end. Creating a universe with rules is essential: otherwise we get something muddled like Voodoo Moon, a film I could scarcely summarize. It doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't have to be deep, but if a movie can't sustain itself for 90 minutes, I have no patience for it. The best thing about Voodoo Moon was discovering it was on Netflix courtesy of Starz, who has decided not to renew its contract with the rental site. That's right-soon enough Starz will pull all of its titles from Netflix Instant, and no one will have to suffer through Voodoo Moon again. Well, barring a misguided trip to the bargain bin.