Formerly known as The Coven, this small-scale demonic horror movie performs a familiar summoning ritual but is reasonably suspenseful and unnerving. It’s a little too easy to see where it’s going, but clean and simple enough for that not to matter too much.
Couple Grace (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Jack (Nolan Gerard Funk) have had a bad weekend break where Jack’s upscale parents weren’t welcoming to raised-in-foster-care Grace. From this, they’ve proceeded to a Southern mansion where Grace has been promised some answers about the family she never knew. However, there’s no one to meet them at the isolated home (an impressive location) and ominous things start happening in short order. Daubed pentagrams seem to be be all over the place. Silent, still folk in the regulation animal skull headdresses and cult robes line up on the front lawn – and all means of communication with or escape to the outside world are sabotaged. When suspect local Wayne (Jeff Fahey) shows up, the cultists disappear – but he finds his brother, who was responsible for inviting Grace here, dead in a closet. The cult come back with more members, and ancient prophecies of ‘the Long Night’ seem close to being fulfilled. Late in the film, the high priest’s head-dress comes off – since Deborah Kara Unger has prominent billing in the opening credits, her identity is not much of a surprise, but Unger is a welcome, intense presence and sells a long speech that explains everything.
Some elements of the Robert Sheppe/Mark Young script are extremely rote – Funk’s Jack is as useless as horror movie husbands tend to be in situations like this (seriously, did he expect the cult not to have sabotaged their car) and backstory is delivered via a creepy old tome handily left lying around. Taylor-Compton, from Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, is good as the harrassed, but inwardly tough heroine – it has to be contrived that she steps on broken glass early on to hobble her, or else she’d seem more than capable of fighting off hooded lurkers by herself. Directed by Rich Ragsdale.