Main cast: Anna Kendrick (Shelby Johnson), Martin Donovan (Officer Dan Johnson), Jessica Parker Kennedy (Becca), Mark Pellegrino (Mr Drake), and Samantha Hill (Emily D’Angelo)
Director: Rob Schmidt
High school girl Shelby Johnson believes in new age and supernatural stuff, and she’s read a lot about these things. Her interest is mostly motivated by her mother’s passing – she’d like to believe that she can one day find a way to communicate with her again. One day, encouraged by her best friend Becca, she builds a spirit box – basically, a DIY ouija board – and they start doing the usual things people do with these things. And lo… the pointer moves! The spirit isn’t that of Shelby’s mother, though – it claims to be that of Emily D’Angelo, a school mate who committed suicide by driving into a lake. Emily claims to have been murdered, and Becca suggests that they should find a way to help the poor dead girl find justice. And all clues suggest that the murderer is Mr Drake, their predatory gymnastics coach who is already making the moves on Shelby by suggesting that she is so beautiful, just like Emily… yikes.
The Spirit Box is shaping up to be a pretty decent, if unexceptional, and most “mainstream” episode of this series when they decide to drop the ball big time with an abrupt twist ending that feels very tacked on. But let’s try to focus on the good things first: Anna Kendrick isn’t well known for her range, but her wide-eyed deer-in-headlights style suits her character perfectly. Mark Pellegrino plays his character as a menacing, sinister type instead of charming, but that works too. Also, the lighting and cinematography are all solid, and hence, the episode has a creepy, haunted atmosphere.
Hence, it is very disappointing when after the predictable but appropriate revelation late in the episode, the episode decides to drop in a twist that comes out of nowhere. It was as if someone realized that there hadn’t been any typical horror movie element hence they need to put one in ASAP, even if they had to pull it out of their ass. Also, the villain seems to have an extraordinary amount of time and resources to pull off those things for what this person is.
In the end, this is another episode that is best enjoyed when the brain is tightly shut down.