In the opening seconds of Black Magic, Alex (Judge Reinhold with a mustache that looks like an Almond Joy bar stuck to his upper lip) glances over at his bathtub and notices dark blue water that suddenly bubbles into the shape of his cousin Ross (Anthony LaPaglia, of Betsy’s Wedding) — but Ross is supposed to have died three weeks ago. Ross tells Alex that he’s now a ghost, cursed by a witch to haunt Alex, and in short, boo! Alex freaks and so do we: The scene is so swift, startling,and funny, it gives off a jolt of energy. If only writer-director Daniel Taplitz (The Squeeze) had a story to match the rip-roaring energy and weirdness he brings to the first scene of Black Magic, he’s have one heck of a TV movie.
When Alex visits the small town in North Carolina where Ross supposedly died, he’s told that his cousin’s body was never found. One body Alex does find belongs to Rachel Ward, who plays Ross’ ex-girlfriend. At this point, Black Magic becomes silly and predictable — Alex falls for Ward’s Lillian, who indeed turns out to be something of a witch. Ross keeps popping up to moan and groan and disturb the couple, and the whole thing becomes you average lame supernatural comedy-thriller. C+