Sator Mixes Family Videos Into Supernatural Horror [Review]

Both Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project claimed to be “found” footage, which led to a murder trial for the former and box office success for the latter. Auteur Jordan Graham’s first feature, Sator, is a variation on that theme. In his director’s statement, Graham says, “Also very real in this film, despite its fictional premise, is my grandmother relating her unique and hauntingly personal experiences.” Meaning Sator mixes Graham’s family videos into a supernatural horror film.

Not knowing where the fiction starts and where the fact ends make for a fascinating viewing experience. As a recording of his Grandma says, “If you summon Sator, he will turn his attention toward you… he will make you pure” over the radio, viewers will wonder if it’s a real or scripted recording. Graham’s Nani (June Peterson) plays herself, and it’s never clear when she’s acting, if ever, and when she’s being filmed out of character. It’s not clear if there is a character at all. That ambiguity had will have viewers rapt, trying to spot the seams between reality and fiction.

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Spell mixes Deliverance and Misery with Hoodoo [Blu-ray Review]

Spell’s hero, Marquis T. Woods (Omari Hardwick), is a bigshot lawyer getting ready for his next case—defending against a class-action lawsuit with mostly black plaintiffs—when he gets the call that his father has died. Over dinner he tells his wife and two children, “I haven’t seen him since I ran away from Appalachia and never looked back.” The family decides to fly his single-engine plane down for the funeral. After ignoring multiple warnings at a gas station, Woods loses control of the plane in a storm. The scene cuts to black, leaving audiences to imagine the crash. 

Woods wakes in the bed of a creepy cabin, foot wrapped in blood soaked bandages. Shortly after, Ms. Eloise (Loretta Devine) comes in with her associate Earl (John Beasely), who tells Woods, “Wasn’t no one in that mushed up old plane but yourself” with a thick accent. There’s also no help on the way because they’re 50 miles away from the nearest hospital and Ms. Eloise doesn’t have a phone. She does have two men—Earl and Lewis (Steve Mululu)—to help her take care of Woods. Quickly, she begins telling him about Hoodoo, though she never says if she’s going to use her spells to help him or use him as ingredients to help with her spells. 

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