|Review||Witchboard 2 (1993)||Director||Kevin S. Tenney|
|Writer||Kevin S. Tenney|
|Cast||Ami Dolenz, Timothy Gibbs, John Gatins, Laraine Newman, Christopher Michael Moore, Marvin Kaplan and Julie Michaels|
“I need to do this. Not just for Susan…but for me” – Paige
Paige Benedict (Dolenz) moves into an artist’s loft hoping to tap into the artist inside her. At work she’s an accountant hoping for a promotion but fighting some dirty competition from a co-worker and she worries she won’t have the backbone to hold her own. She’s recently broken up with her cop boyfriend Mitch (Gibbs) who pines for her to return and makes friends with landlady Elaine (Newman) and her photographer brother Russel (Gatins).
A Ouija board was left in the apartment and Paige makes contact with a spirit that calls itself Susan. Susan claims to have been murdered and Paige sets out to prove it to be true. Paige starts showing some personality changes and becomes obsessed with finding out the truth while Russel believes she’s showing signs of possession and Mitch is worried as well. Strange happenings and a couple of gruesome deaths show that someone has some unfinished business.
I’m a big fan of Kevin S. Tenney. This is the third film of his I’ve written about (the others being “Witchboard” and “Night of the Demons”) and I always find him maximising the tension and fright factors and staging set-pieces wonderfully. Maybe apart from “Night of the Demons” his movies look relatively low-budget and there’s some need for creative filmmaking and he’s not short on ideas on how to deliver some scares.
“Witchboard 2” does have some clunky scenes in the beginning, particularly when characters are being introduced but once it settles some fifteen minutes in it’s quite impressive. Suspense set-pieces are expertly handled with some great camera work and everything is done with practical effects that are effective. A scene involving a car that can’t stop is magnificently and stylishly executed and one only wonders what Tenney and crew could achieve with a decent budget.
The script, by Tenney as well, is decently written and functions as a bit more of a murder mystery than the first “Witchboard”. It’s not predictable and has a few surprises up it’s sleeve and inserts some good humour in places; particularly involving the terrible spelling by spirits that also let’s loose a clue for eagle eyed viewers. The way Paige connects the dots is done in a fairly believable way and the film is well paced. It’s a fairly bright lit film, even scenes in the dark, but Tenney conjures up a spooky atmosphere and maintains it well.
I had quite the crush on Ami Dolenz back in the day and she’s very appealing as Paige. Introduced as very conservative with a mousy personality; Paige shows some character changes throughout the film and Dolenz pulls it off well. Mitch looks like he’s going to be a one-note and tiresome character in the beginning but is handled well by the script and well played by Gibbs and comes off very well. Gatins is very good as Russel and Newman quite fine as the eccentric landlady and she can deliver some kooky dialog with relative conviction. There’s also a welcome cameo by Todd Allen who played the lead in the first “Witchboard”.
So far I’ve seen four films by Tenney (the other being the excellent “Witchtrap” – 1989) and I simply find his style very appealing. His knack for staging set-pieces and maintaining a spooky atmosphere is on full display in these films and I find them endlessly re-watchable. I hope he can conjure up a comeback and make more horror films.