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Spirit Trap (2005) review


Director: David Smith

Starring: Billie Piper, Luke Mably, Sam Troughton, Emma Catherwood, Alsou

JENNY – “It’s a spirit clock. My mum had one.”

ADELE – “So what does it do? Horoscopes or something?”

JENNY – “It’s supposed to be a bridge between our world and the next. It’s a load of crap, really.”

True story: as Billie Piper was flying to Romania to film Spirit Trap, she received a call from her agent telling her she’d just landed the part of Rose Tyler, the assistant in BBC’s reboot of Doctor Who.

Excited, Billie turned to her Spirit Trap co-star Sam Troughton to share her good news. “That’s a coincidence,” Sam replied. “Back in the ’60s, my grandfather, Patrick Troughton, played the second Doctor.”

Interesting stuff eh? Shame they didn’t make a film out of that story instead, because Spirit Trap is a bucket of gash.

Calm down Billie, it’s just an expression

Four strangers each receive a phone call from their school’s accommodation office telling them they can all move into a massive, creepy house in London. There they meet Tina, the house’s resident who has a similar air of dodginess about her.

Conveniently, each student fits perfectly into the Generic Horror Movie Character Personality Chart™. Jenny (Piper) is the wholesome lead female with a hidden secret (she’s psychic), while Nick (Troughton) is the nicey-nicey chap who becomes the inevitable love interest.

Then there’s Tom and Adele, an unrealistically aggressive drug dealer and his overtly sex-mad girlfriend, both of whom are such a massive pain in the arse that you’ll be praying for haemorrhoids by the end.

Finally there’s the aforementioned Tina, the barely memorable ‘mysterious’ one who’s seemingly only in there because she’s played by Russian pop star Alsou whose dad is the 100th richest man in Russia (not a joke).

“Fuck me, this place hasn’t been cleaned in months. Right, get the Brasso out”

This wouldn’t be a shit horror film without a tired cliché for a plot device, and in this case it’s a haunted clock, one that can make ghosts appear. Good job it’s broken then, eh?

Inevitably, it doesn’t stay broken for long. The clock is fixed when the ever-helpful Nick finds a small diary trapped inside its mechanism and removes it (of course, he doesn’t think to actually read the diary right away: that would spoil the plot too early).

Once the clock is up and running again, weird things start to happen. Anyone with a horror cliché bingo card is all but guaranteed to be shouting “house” at some point, as one by one the same tired tropes trot out.

One character sees what they think is a ghostly reflection in a mirror, but when they turn round it isn’t there. Another wakes to find spooky footsteps on their floor.

“Let us in mate, it’s properly pissing it down out here”

A third has spooky dreams about walking through an abandoned college, while Billie Piper constantly clings to a special necklace which, predictably, lets her do weird shit. In this case, it’s speaking to her dead mum.

And, of course, there’s a ouija board scene – a couple, in fact – which ultimately leads to the revelation that the house is hiding a terrible secret and its past is coming back to haunt its residents (literally).

There’s very little in Spirit Trap you won’t have seen before, and seen much better at that. Piper aside, the acting is of high school drama class quality, and the occasional ‘boo’ scares are about as shocking as a knee-length skirt.

There is the odd glimmer of hope in there. Director ‘David Smith’ certainly has an eye for a good shot, and rumour has it he’s gone on to direct bigger and better things, ditching his generic alias and going by his real name instead… whatever that may be. Indeed, the fact that IMDb lists this as his single credit is telling.

Budget cuts at the local high school made the sharing of exams a necessary evil

The last ten minutes are also relatively interesting, and even though the old ‘this house has a dark secret’ pish has been done umpteen times before, adding a racial element to things does at least make for a slightly different take on things.

In general though, there’s really no point wasting your time with this, other than for the novelty of seeing Billie Piper in her first lead role in the brief period before Doctor Who gave her a far bigger stage.

I really wouldn’t bother but if you have some sort of odd Billie Piper shrine in your basement then you can get the UK DVD here and get the US DVD here.


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