October 19, 2000

Screaming for Salvation

Print More

With the recent resurgence of horror flicks such as Scream (parts one through infinity) and The Blair Witch Project, it is rare that one comes across a quality suspense-thriller such as last year’s The Sixth Sense. After seeing the advertisements for Wynona Ryder’s latest film Lost Souls, I was optimistic that perhaps modern horror movies were taking a hint and moving away from their Scream-like counterparts.

However, Lost Souls serves as further proof that advertisers and marketing teams can be far better at their jobs than writers and directors are at theirs. So, before rushing out to see this film, I have a suggestion for you: Stop by your local Army surplus store and get yourself a gas-mask and a shovel. You’ll thank me later.

In other words, the 102 minutes I wasted watching this film could have been better spent banging my head against the sidewalk outside of the theater. The net result would have been the same and the ensuing headache would have gone away faster.

As the opening credits roll, the audience is greeted with a rather cliche track of “eerie” music and a blurry close-up of water dripping into a puddle. From director Janusz Kaminski (Saving Private Ryan) one would expect more. But, unfortunately, the agonizingly slow motion shots and completely useless, odd camera angles only detract from the movie’s already weak plot.

Wynona Ryder stars as Maya Larkin, a young Catholic woman haunted by the memories of her own exorcism. Larkin, now working for the church, serves as a consultant to Father Lareaux (John Hurt), the very priest who performed her exorcism some years earlier.

Though Ryder and Hurt are both veteran actors, neither character is well developed. The audience is left wondering where Larkin’s “expertise” in the realm of exorcism originated.

As the plot progresses, Larkin stumbles across a few prophetic red flags that lead her to the office of Peter Kelson, played by newcomer Ben Chaplin. Kelson is an award-winning journalist and consummate atheist. So, when Larkin brings him the news that he is to become the living embodiment of Satan, Kelson finds it hard to swallow.

Sorry folks, despite the clever advertisements, Lost Souls is basically nothing more than an excuse to throw around a few names like Wynona Ryder and Meg Ryan (who co-produced but does not appear in the film.) Unfortunately for the writers, director, cast, and crew, Lost Souls can’t redeem itself with special effects and star-power.

If you decide to go and see this film expect to be frightened only if: a) you’re under the age of 12, or b) you’re my roommate.

Personally, I should have used the $7.75 I spent on a ticket to buy a bottle of Nyquil. At least then I could have fallen asleep in a bed as opposed to snoozing in the theater. As for Ryder, Ryan, and Kaminski … God have mercy on their souls.

Archived article by Nate Brown