I’d been putting off watching The Spell for awhile, probably because I thought it was just going to be a plus-sized version of Carrie. I was missing out on what I now feel is pretty much the quintessential TV horror movie. Strong words, I know, but The Spell encapsulates everything I hope to feature here on Tuesdays.
Rita (Susan Myers) is a chubby fifteen year old girl who can’t seem to catch her breath from all the put-downs in her life. If it’s not coming out of the mouths of the popular girls at school, it’s coming from her father (James Olson) at home. He loves Rita, but he doesn’t know what to do with her and her sometimes shit attitude. Her mother (Lee Grant, looking really gorgeous) defends her, but her father prefers her pretty, eager-to-please younger sister (Helen Hunt). Pretty soon people around Rita start dying mysteriously, or nearly so. A mean girl at school falls from the rope in gym class; then, shockingly, a neighbor spontaneously combusts! Is Rita the psychic murderer, or, as a local paranormal expert (Jack Colvin) suggests, is there a more powerful psychic using Rita?
Fans of the variety of horror movie that delivers kill after kill may get impatient, because there is a lot of drama between the horrific moments, but boy am I glad everything was allowed to build up. Even some things I thought at first were ridiculous, like the gym teacher (Lelia Goldoni) who simply clicks off her stopwatch when the mean girl falls instead of rushing to her aid, are explained eventually. The payoff at the end is worth every family fight we have to sit through. It’s not often that I don’t guess the twist at the end of a movie, but this one got me good and made me want to cheer. Watch this on Netflix instant or Hulu soon!