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Spirit Trap (2005)
28th Nov 05
Five students take up residence in a derelict London mansion with predictable results.
British Horror. There isn’t enough of it. It’s therefore infuriating when a British horror film miserably fails to deliver the goods in any department. Spirit Trap, as you’ve no doubt worked out by now, is one of those films – a complete waste of 91 minutes, that is, if you can actually endure the full running time.
Five students – Jenny (Billie Piper), spliffhead drug dealer Tom (Luke Mably), his nauseatingly awful girlfriend Adele (Emma Catherwood), weirdo Tina (Alsou) and all round nice guy Nick (Sam Troughton) – move into a derelict London mansion which looks very much like a haunted house. That’s because it is a haunted house. Strange things begin happening when Nick repairs an old spirit clock and the new housemates play with a ouija board – mobile phones stop working (somebody please!), mysterious noises abound, taps start running and strange shadows of mobs are sighted.
Jenny, having refused to take part in ouija games, accepts her clairvoyant powers and tells Mr. Sensitive (Nick) that not only is her spiritualist mother dead, but that she killed her herself. Meanwhile, things continue to go wrong in a very predictable manner for the other housemates, with standard issue explorations of dark basements and attics.
Where does one begin?
For a start, none of the characters in Spirit Trap are likeable, so we don’t care what happens to them. Heck, even Nick – the ‘nice guy’- comes off as a drip, although it’s highly likely that Sam Troughton could be likeable in a better written film, which takes me onto the next point - the script. This is abysmal. Its only success lies in making this young group of actors look and sound ridiculous, taking itself way too seriously in the worst possible way, behaving like it’s the first haunted house film ever made. Well it’s not. The haunted house movie is well-treaded territory, and how anyone thinks they could get away with making a further addition in 2005 with a distinct lack of surprises up its sleeve is beyond comprehension. Do they expect us to be thrilled or creeped-out when the taps start running? Are we meant to be trembling in our seats when they explore the dark basement? Unless I’m mistaken, everything you see in Spirit Trap is regurgitated from other horror films, so best to give this one a miss and just watch the originals instead. This is a cliché scrapbook transformed into a sad excuse for a horror film that simply does not horrify, or come anywhere close. It plays more like a Halloween episode of the substandard British soap, Family Affairs. It’s that bad.
Style-wise, perhaps director David Smith’s idea was to have no style. If this was the case, then he’s at least made a success of that. The flat, dull photography is complimented by one of the most awful soundtracks ever written, courtesy of ex-Dire Straits man Guy Fletcher.
I’ll be honest and say that I was keen to see whether Spirit Trap would provide just one decent scare, but it doesn’t. Avoid at all costs. Even if it’s free. Time is too precious for films as bad as this.
1st Nov 04 Above all though, it is the relationship between John and Laura Baxter which is the film’s central focus throughout, and the gradual disintegration of their relationship amidst a haze of grief.