Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Spiritual Contact the Movie
Writers: Emerson Pinheiro
Producer: Emerson Pinheiro
Cast: Adam Wilson, Nick Quye, Lousa Leal
Year of release: 2014
Reviewed from: YouTube
In an infinite universe, there’s room for everything. MindFlesh was a Buddhist British horror movie. It’s a Wonderful Afterlife was a Hindu British horror movie. Spiritual Contact the Movie is a Spiritualist British horror movie. I doubt if it’s the only Spiritualist horror movie ever made – there’s probably quite a few come out of Nollywood over the years. But it’s probably the only one ever made in London.
Adam Wilson (Gordon in Mr Selfridge, more recently in Broadchurch) turns in a solid, mature performance as Jeremiah, an 11-year-old lad who starts seeing mysterious, dark-robed, non-corporeal figures. He lives in a suburban semi with his English, disabled dad John (Nick Quye, who was a zombie victim in Devil’s Playground), his Brazilian mum Helena (Lousa Leal) and his two elder siblings, Chris (Prentice Garces) and Jennifer (Alana Boden, who was Gordon’s sister Beatrice Selfridge)
John and Helena are decent, God-fearing folk who have brought their kids up right, although Chris is showing signs of dangerous teenage rebellion fuelled by his interest in what Rev. Lovejoy would recognise as “rock and/or roll”. Jeremiah’s visions start after he uses a voodoo doll to take revenge on a neighbour who was mean to his mother, although this is never followed up.
Towards the end of this short feature (running just 66 minutes), Jeremiah reads a couple of scripture passages out loud, and the film ends with a quote from writer-director-producer Emerson Pinheiro (who also plays the spirits in the effects shots).
Pinheiro based this on his own childhood experiences in the mid-1990s, and who am I to doubt either his religious beliefs or his genuine belief that these events happened to him? That’s not really my concern: I’m interested in how this functions as a horror film. And ‘surprisingly well’ is the answer. The spirit effects are creepy, and there’s one particularly effective dream sequence when Jeremiah is physically yanked from his bed by a cowled spirit which grabs him by the ankle, pulls him onto the floor and then threatens him with a machete.
Given that there’s not a huge amount of plot, the script by Pinheiro, Moyle and Neville Crabe is surprisingly coherent and well-structured. There are a few too many scenes of people just arriving or leaving places which aren’t needed, without which this would probably run dead on an hour (give or take) but that’s not an egregious problem.
Interestingly, although Adam Wilson is himself devoutly religious, he’s not a Spiritualist, he’s a Mormon – which, for the benefit of the Godless, heathen hordes among you, is a completely different thing. Lamin Tamba (The Devil Went Down to Islington) and Priscila Gomes play the neighbours; Claire Greasley (Death Walks, Rock Band vs Vampires) and Chris Cowlin (Woman in Black 2, May I Kill U?, The Seasoning House, Scar Tissue) are among the congregation. Shot in 2012, the film premiered at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley in January 2013 and also screened at the Portobello Film Festival in September that year. In November 2014 Pinheiro posted the entire movie onto YouTube. Since shooting this feature he has made several shorts in different genres.
MJS rating: B+