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average rating is 3 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Jun 8, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Jaron Lockridge
Written by:
Jaron Lockridge
Keith Johnson, Ketrick 'Jazz' Copeland, Nichole Tate Jackson

Even if Nope (2022) wasn't that good of a film; it was basically just Jaws (1975) in the desert with aliens and a few false steps; it did allow Jordan Peele to tell us what he knew about cinema. He said it with his previous films, too – Get Out (2017) and Us (2019) – that if cinema is going to be diverse and inclusive then it's going to need to have black made films with real black characters. Now, writer/director Jaron Lockridge is looking to follow in those very same footsteps as he presents us with his feature-ish length horror story, Succuba.


Eddie Williams (Johnson) is a pastor in Whiteville, Tennessee. He lost his wife not so long ago and has perhaps been questioning his faith since. He's still doing his community fellowship rounds though and takes it upon himself to call on Maurice, who hasn't been turning up to church for the past few weeks. At Maurice's house, however, something shocking has happened. Ready to start a house fire at the same time as blowing his brains out, Maurice is found dead at the kitchen table, but there's something else, something far more sinister, waiting, tied up in the bedroom and now it has attached itself to Eddie.


Cut to Sheriff Philip Grover (Copeland) who's been out electioneering with his wife (Jackson). The next day he needs some downtime and so sets off to his usual fishing spot to relax a little. On the way back home his truck cuts out and so Sheriff Grover needs to find someone to help and somewhere to get out of the rain. It just so happens that the first house he comes across and the first door he knocks upon belongs to former Pastor Williams, who unfortunately is looking decidedly worse for wear. Now it seems like it's time to get to the bottom of things.


What Lockridge is offering to us in Succuba is a real grass-roots production that speaks to the heart of home-grown cinema. He has taken an idea which may well seem fairly standard in the horror genre and applied his own vision to it entirely so that it becomes a personal tale, perhaps even an allegory, that fits in with the world he sees around him. Lockridge's vision was so strong that he could picture the actors he wanted playing the parts and so wrote the characters with them in mind. His vision then extended to the setting, the way the story would play out and the way he would shoot the scenes, meaning that he also took on the roles of editor and cinematographer for the film.


As a creature feature, Lockridge does a lot of the right things in Succuba to keep the tension high and the audience hooked. Small teases and flashes of the monster scare our imagination into action, the presentation of Pastor Williams as some sort of monster himself keeps us on the edge of our seat, and the closed in surroundings where most of the tale is told engenders a feeling of claustrophobia that only tightens the nerves. The best thing which sells the story, however, is that the characters themselves are well drawn and believable, as well as being played expertly well, especially by Keith Johnson as Eddie.


There are still some things in amongst all this that Lockridge doesn't quite get right, especially with the minimal (to no) lighting and sound design. There are far too many too long shots which should have been cut far earlier and at times it does seem like Lockridge is padding the film out to give it more heft. For a seventy minute film it still feels as though there's not quite enough to justify the length and in the end Succuba would have benefited from being a good half-hour shorter and just a bit punchier and tight. Still, for a film with such a small budget it does what it does well, uses its characters and actors properly, and has that Peele appeal which audiences should appreciate.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Indie Feature Film
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