Set amid the familiar, gritty grounds of a backwoods thriller, “Spell” attempts to summon the terrors of “The Hills Have Eyes” in a “Misery” package, with little jolt and even less cinematic elegance to go around.
On paper, there is some appeal to the film’s shtick—a predominantly black cast telling the story of a captive man stranded in the Appalachian Kentucky suggests something fresh could come out of this well-worn formula of grimy witchcraft horror. But director Mark Tonderai (“House at the End of the Street”) and writer Kurt Wimmer (“Salt”) don’t show any interest in deconstructing a tried-and-true recipe. Instead, the duo indulges in various box-ticking elements that are at best serviceable: squeaky floorboards, rusty door hinges, sweat-soaked exertions towards an escape route and even a pair of truly grotesque scenes involving injured feet (just to earnestly make good with that “Misery” reference) are among the frequent offerings of “Spell.”
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