Film Review: The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute (2012)

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SYNOPSIS:

In the Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute, a master manipulator and hustler by the name of Fleetwood Deville dispenses heinous wrong-doings to nearly everyone that crosses his path. One particular female managed to meet and exceed any expectation of evil. She cursed Fleetwood to a fate even worse than death: impotence. With his harem of beautiful women and killers, Fleetwood must rival neighboring pimps to free himself from a curse that if left undone would not only take his manhood, but possibly his life. This film is based in the mean streets and interminglings of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

REVIEW:

There is a lot of potential that can be found in low-budget films. It may be the fact that the filmmakers are trying to build a name for themselves. It could be the added effort required to make the movie watchable. Or it may just be the brilliance of one unknown person who knows exactly what is needed to create the right storytelling method in which a story should be told. All of these are good reasons to check out many of the low-budget films that people do not talk about on a regular basis. This is one of those films.

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Charles Buchanan wrote and starred in The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute, a movie as difficult to describe as it was to watch. Mob leader Fleetwood Deville (Buchanan) was recounting a story to Death. He wanted Death to know why they had ended up face-to-face. The story was about Deville hiring a woman named Devay Devine (Heather McCormick) to find two people who had wronged him. The first was a man who did not matter at all and was executed and forgotten quickly. The other was a prostitute (Jayde Kelley) who had magically transformed Deville’s penis into a rattlesnake. These events were happening while a police officer (Joshua Winch) who looked like a low rent Andrew Dice Clay pursued them. It was a tale that did not need to be told but was anyway because there are people who will watch anything.

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The beginning is the right place to start when diving into what makes The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute the movie that it is. In this case, the beginning was the end since there was a bookend involving Deville talking to Death. There was a narration throughout the movie that was set up by having this meeting of characters. It was a creative decision that had good intentions behind it; however, the bookend scenes were the weakest scenes. Objectively speaking, it was next to impossible to see either characte. No light was used to illuminate the set. The camera was turned on to record darkly dressed characters in a dark room. Then there was the voice of Death. To convey the demon-like being’s voice, the actor’s voice was distorted in post-production. This would not be an issue if not for the fact that the voice was distorted to an extent that it became tough to understand the dialogue. Subjectively speaking, the bookend required the story of The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute to be tailored to fit it. There must be a reason that Deville sat down to hold a conversation with Death. There also must be a complete story told. Thus, when the main story concluded itself, Deville quickly skimmed over the events that happened between that story and the present. It made the bookend feel unnatural and an afterthought. The movie would have been stronger had the bookend either been tied closer to the plot, or removed entirely.

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Another detail of The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute that could have been completely excised to make the movie more compact and better in quality was an exterior establishing shot of Deville’s mansion. The single shot was overused throughout the movie, being shown at least once every five minutes. When the location has been established in the movie it does not need to continually be established throughout the following hour and ten minutes. It felt like a sitcom technique being used in a setting that does not require it. This was especially true when the time of day was being established (though the time of day never really comes into play plot-wise), and it was the same shot again dimmed down to look darker.

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Some of the shots in The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute did look good, however. There was a wide shot in which Devay Devine was standing next to a car that was well composed and looked great for a film of this budget. That is to say it did not look as low budget as the rest of the film. Had the rest of the movie been as well filmed as that single shot, it would have been a much more enjoyable visual experience. Sadly, the good quality visuals were few and far between. The vast majority of what comprised The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute was on par with the repeated establishing shot and the very dark scenes with Death.

As far as the story went, The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute left much to be desired. The story was introduced after the incident in which Fleetwood Deville’s penis had been changed. None of the events prior to his calling a hit on the people that wronged him were shown, aside from a flashback to his sister. The transformation was the causative incident and the reason that the entire story was happening. Including it would have helped to highlight the relationship that the characters had without forcing it into the exposition. It would have made the film feel more complete. And it would have given background to the events that are unfolding. Without it, half the movie is spent catching up to the incident while trying to move forward. Basically, the story is a mess and really only half of a story anyway.

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It does not help that the acting and directing does not support the weak writing and cinematography. Were they to provide support, many of the issues could likely have been glossed over. However, the performances are passable at best and the direction does not bring any elements together in a satisfying way. It seems like Charles Buchanan had a dream one night, wrote it down when he woke up, and decided that the initial scribblings were a near perfect script. Then he took three days to throw together the movie and decided that was the best it could ever be. It needed a couple of additional runs through the script and a refined direction to make it into a stronger film that could be enjoyed. Instead, it felt like the aftermath of a breakfast burrito buffet.

The Tale of the Voodoo Prostitute was not a good movie. There was nothing worthwhile in the movie. If it were to be remade at some point, that remake might be worth checking out. This version of the movie was not. There were no redeeming qualities in the hour and fifteen minute movie that was released to the public. There was potential for something good, but wasted potential does not make a good film. Wasted potential makes for a disappointing time.the camera work, there was a lot to commend. Jason Cavalier and Kevin Woodhouse are masters of highlighting the skill and precision of their action. They allowed it to take over the movie and it was the right choice. Order of One would not have been half as entertaining as it turned out to be were it not for the action. Once the action began, the movie became a delight. And it never let up.

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