Marc-Ivan O’Gorman’s film The Black Magic (2002) serves up a curse from a vengeful Asian spirit upon three obnoxious, stereotypical, frat boy characters. You can probably guess the plot already, but I’ll spill a few details anyway. As mentioned, there are three pretty boy fraternity types on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand. They come off as dumb and lame instantly, superficial to the breaking point. They all work out, use product in their hair, dance to generic techno, drink and get drugged up, and smile like idiots. Therefore, we know they are successful people. That is until they do something they’ll regret later on in the film when a vengeful female spirit is out to get them. If you’re wondering what that something could be, just ask yourself: Why would a woman hate frat boys and come back to haunt them?
So, who are the frat boys? We have Andrew (Daniel Lennox), the nicest one in the group although still obnoxious. Then there’s the sleazy, ultra-corporate David (Guy Bracca), who reminds me of a less bombastic Donald Trump. Last, and possibly least, we have Craig (Brian Bianchini). Craig is the muscular one of the bunch, so he is predictably depicted as the dumbest (in the classic formula, one cannot be intelligent and ripped at the same time). It leads me to wonder if frat boys have ever been depicted in even a slightly positive way in a horror movie.
Anyway, the woman haunting them, Sita (Sheny Andrea), really does not have much character development either. She is just ready, willing and able to sightsee with the American tourists for a little money, but ends up a victim (and a spirit) after committing suicide. She perhaps does the best acting in The Black Magic, though I’d say it could have been utilized more.
Another decent (and oddly humorous) role is that of a Thai witch doctor who gives Andrew an amulet to protect his fiancé, Heather (Christina Wieber), from being possessed by Sita. I don’t know the actress’s name (even after consulting IMDb), but the witch doctor seems to always have a sacrificial chicken on standby, and at one point even says, “I’m tired holding chicken.” While the movie itself isn’t great, little moments like these are potentially of value.
Also, one of the curses leads to a silly moment where the yuppie, David, pukes during a big board meeting, jeopardizing his job and the company’s reputation. If that’s not enough, he also has a sore on his face which gets worse as the movie progresses (though not incredibly worse). Craig’s curse is far less imaginative as he merely gets stabbed. As for Andrew, he sees a few hallucinations here and there but nothing all that exciting, frankly. Basically, what we have in The Black Magic is a movie that could have been far more than what it was and better executed overall. It’s not something anyone will demand as a stocking stuffer for Christmas, that’s for sure.
Like with just about anything, there are plot holes. Perhaps the best plot hole is when, after being possessed, Heather attempts to kill Craig in the hospital. Her attempt is thwarted by Andrew and she’s allowed to leave as if nothing happened. How often does that sort of thing occur? I would assume not often. Usually, attempted murder leads to a greater consequence than that. Later, she asks Andrew what is going on and why she had a “goddamn sacrificial dagger” in her hand. He does his best to explain the curse and its origin and Heather gets upset that he didn’t stop the other boys from abusing Sita. He said he tried but it was too late, or something to that effect. It may not be a good enough answer, but at least he didn’t say, “I was tired holding chicken.”
The moral of The Black Magic? Never trust rich, pretty-boy fraternity guys, and always trust witch doctors.