The Film (4/5)
“Love is blind” “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is”. These are two famous quotes that can summarize the movie Spellbinder. Attorney Jeff Mills (Tim Daly, the voice of Superman in the cartoon TV series), is walking home from a basketball game with his co-worker and friend Derek Clayton (Rick Rossovich from Top Gun and many TV shows) when he sees the ultra-sexy femme fatale Miranda (Kelly Preston from John Carpenter’s Christine) getting beaten up by Aldys (Anthony Crivello from Independence Day fame). He saves her, and takes her home where his life would never be the same again.
She is basically his dream girl come true, everything he was looking for and more. He falls completely in love with her, not knowing what he getting himself into. At a party that Jeff throws to introduce his new love, everyone seems to like her although there is a skeptic of her and he gets warned that’s she is no good, but shrugs it off. We later find out Aldys is part of a group of Satan worshippers who want Miranda back. Miranda explains this to Jeff, also telling him that she’s a witch that’s being hunted down by this cult for the upcoming winter solstice where they need a human sacrifice.
Throughout the movie, members of the devil cult warn Jeff for not returning her, including a Mrs. White (Audra Lindley). The last half of the film has Jeff doing everything he can to keep Miranda safe from them. The climax has Miranda, who has been captured by the cult, tied up on a beach in preparation to be the human sacrifice and Jeff is frantically trying to save her. He gathers some information of where Miranda is from an elderly couple, also devil worshippers, and along with his friend Derek, they drive around to her whereabouts. He finds her lying down on the sand at a beach, where she is going to have her heart removed as part of the human sacrifice. This where the entire film goes for one the biggest films twists since The Sixth Sense.
If you’ve seen it, you know what happens next, if not, you must watch this film and be ready for some surprises. Just a brilliant film by director Janet Greek! Spellbound is not a horror movie, not in the true sense, but more of a mystery thriller with some horror elements (think Death Wish) , as there are some supernatural situations as well as the horrific ritual. This is a moody thriller, which starts off as a romance builds steam toward its quasi-horror/thriller as we learn the truth about Miranda. It has a good blend of drama with some great action sequences with a payoff that you don’t see coming as a first time viewer.
The acting in Spellbinder is excellent; each character is played well, especially the characters that suddenly do a 180 in their roles. The only problem I had in the movie with Tim Daly’s role as what appears to be a successful attorney for a large law firm. As an attorney you need to have superior skills in reading people, seeing through them. Lawyers are highly educated, so they must possess a strong intellect and have excellent judgment. But he is so, dare I say, Spellbound, that he can’t clearly see the forest through the trees in his personal life. He doesn’t fully understand or even see what is happening to him or his life which leads to his downfall. And it’s hard to imagine someone of an attorney’s stature to be naïve.
Kino Lorber delivers Spellbound in its original 1:85;1 aspect ratio, in 1080p with an AVC encode and the results are really excellent. This release boasts excellent colors, detail, sharpness and clarity. The audio quality is the usual Kino DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0 and does not have any audio issues.
For this release we get a couple of really good extras (produced by Walter Olson of Scorpion Releasing, who also recommended this film to Kino Lorber) . We are treated to a commentary track by the director herself, Janet Greek, and an interview with Anthony Crivello aka Aldys. An HD theatrical trailer rounds it up. Extras are about quality, not quantity and while some labels can really load up on supplements, depending on the film and its participants, sometimes a release with a few but really strong extras also score big in my book.
Spellbound is a genuinely great thriller, with superb performances by the cast, and with that jaw dropping twist ending. The image and audio quality are top notch and the extras as just icing on the cake. Another recommended release from Kino Lorber !