Studio: NAMP Entertainment
Director: Alan Smithee, Obba Babatunde, Kenya Moore
Writer: Johnny Desarmes, Thamara Lamarre, Obba Babatunde
Producer: Paul Goldsby
Stars: Obba Babatunde, Kenya Moore, Miguel A. Nunez Jr., Rudolph Moise, William L. Johnson, Kiki Shepard, Kia Samuel
A married couple becomes cursed after the husband has an affair with the jealous daughter of a voodoo priest.
Among Hollywood’s plentiful collection of poorly kept secrets is the relatively well known fact that “Alan Smithee” is a catch all pseudonym for a director who wants his/her name removed from the credits of a film. Whether out of shame, disgust, disappointment, or general apathy, the reason for disassociating one’s self from a professional work is never good. Neither is the resulting movie. After all, if the director wants nothing to do with the finished product, then why would an audience?
Such is the case with “Dolls of Voodoo,” which is the latest entry on the fictional Mr. Smithee’s directorial resume. He shares the credit with co-stars Obba Babatunde and Kenya Moore. Multiple directors constitute the second red flag to scream, “you have been warned.”
As if cheating on his fiancée Nadine is not slimy enough, lawyer Richard Lazard makes a mistress out of Florence, the daughter of voodoo priest Iklif. Scorning the Haitian woman paves the way for retribution in the form of zombie dust and ritualistic curses leading to Nadine’s kidnapping at Iklif’s hands. A generic idol with pins stuck in it appears once or twice too, just to justify the first word in the title.
“Dolls of Voodoo” opens with one foot in the grave by explaining the scorned lover as a current tryst instead of as a jealous ex. A one-sentence tweak of the screenplay might have aided with the main characters’ likability. Instead, the story is saddled with a two timing lout for a protagonist and a woman willing to stick with a man who brought a voodoo priestess into their lives during the engagement. Though this is only the beginning of the movie’s perplexing script issues.
“Dolls of Voodoo” turns into an unfocused smattering of loosely linked vignettes that barely contains any connecting tissue. A careless lack of attention to detail is all the proof needed to see that too many cooks in the kitchen were desperate to stitch something together and call it a feature film. Cars with California license plates appear during scenes set in Florida. The voodoo priest’s last name is spelled “Casmir” while his daughter’s appears as “Cashmire.” Blows and punches in fight sequences come with the phony sounding thuds of bargain basement kung-fu movies. All that is missing is a Batman-style “Pow!” flashing onscreen.
Characters enter and exit the story for no discernible reason. Richard’s receptionist asks to go on leave so that she can attend to her sick mother. She hires a replacement that flirts with Richard’s friend and then ends up in a hot tub. Was the first receptionist a producer’s relative? Why was her appearance ever necessary? A lawyer who delivers bad news. A tennis partner who flirts with her instructor. “Dolls of Voodoo” is loaded with moments and with people that have no bearing whatsoever on the plot. Something smells fishy.
Although a copyright dates the movie to 2013, its TV movie lighting and throwback soundtrack make it seem straight out of 1993. Alan Smithee. A pointless roster of secondary players. An outdated presentation. None of these things add up.
A quick bit of detective work finally revealed the reason behind the film’s sloppy appearance. It turns out that “Dolls of Voodoo” is not an entirely original production. It is actually reworked material from a 2010 release titled “Trapped: Haitian Nights.” Not quite 1993, but the revelation goes a long way towards explaining why Obba Babatunde’s hair is varying shades of white depending upon the scene. The filmmakers removed Vivica A. Fox’s starring role, kept the storyline of the voodoo father/daughter and newlywed husband/wife, and bookended the reused pieces with additional footage to create a “new” movie.
The result is exactly what one would expect from a movie made by at least three different directors working from two different scripts between 2010 and 2013. Resurrected like a Haitian zombie, “Dolls of Voodoo” stumbles aimlessly in a confused daze somewhere between alive and undead. Unlike the zombie, “Dolls of Voodoo” is not even scary.
“Trapped: Haitian Nights” went unnoticed in 2010. Someone mistakenly believed that removing the marquee draw and forcing in nonsensical segments to make a new movie might make a difference in 2013. Except the only difference is now they have two movies on their hands that no one is interested in seeing.
Review Score: 20