An ambitious attempt at a romantic ghost story for African-American audiences, SPIRIT LOST lacks star chemistry and a sense of how to build suspense.
Determined to pursue his painting muse, John (Leon Robinson) quits his day job and moves his wife Willy (Regina Taylor) to a remote seaside house. Initially, John's artistic inspiration flows and Willy becomes pregnant. But the couple's idyllic domicile is disrupted when John begins to see
apparitions of a 200-year-old spirit named Arabella (Cynda Williams). Neglecting both Willy and his work focus, John is drawn into a sexual relation with this spiteful succubus, who siphons off his life-force and tries to eliminate Willy.
Resentful that Willy must spend her pregnancy confined to bed, John abandons her to the care of Nurse Vera (Juanita Jennings), whom Arabella eventually frightens off. Despite the respite of a trip away from the house after Willy miscarries, John is soon drawn back to the controlling Arabella.
Fighting for her man, Willy learns about Arabella's tragic history in a book in an antique store: abandoned for a white woman by her lover, an English sea captain, Arabella killed herself in the 1800s. She now intends to possess John's body and soul forever. Vera returns with two voodoo
priestesses who help release Arabella's soul from limbo in this house. Recovering from Arabella's spell in a hospital, John is alive, but a broken man.
Like an otherworldly FATAL ATTRACTION (1987), SPIRIT LOST's moral for married men is never sleep with a ghost, no matter how hot-looking she is. But SPIRIT LOST fails to mine its erotic premise. As a twisted love tale, it's passionless. As a baroque ghost story, it's frisson-less. Worst of all,
it botches the opportunity to re-create a white-bread genre from an African-American perspective. Pokily directed, the script is so talky that viewers will feel as if they've been possessed by the spirit of a flock of magpies. Instead of a sexy ghost saga, viewers get characters who do nothing but
moan, surmise, and postulate endlessly; the scenes of supernatural copulation are a bust, mainly because leading man Leon brings little to this ghost-fete except a solid physique. Amateurishly acted by a cast defeated by a flimsy script and zombie-esque direction, SPIRIT LOST delivers the zing of
an infomercial about the best way to rid your home of pesky poltergeists. (Violence, profanity, extensive nudity.)
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