Lost Souls Review

by "Steve Rhodes" (Steve DOT Rhodes AT InternetReviews DOT com)
October 14th, 2000

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): *

LOST SOULS, opening on a carefully chosen Friday the Thirteenth, is liable to elicit strong reactions from its audiences. The emotion realized, however, will likely not be what the filmmakers intended. The overwhelming feeling that the film imparts is pity, not fear. We feel sorry for the talented actors who perform their craft as hard as they can but have no hope of overcoming Pierce Gardner's uninvolving, unimaginative and unoriginal script and first-time director Janusz Kaminski's lackluster direction.

The only moments of fright come from a couple of unexpected loud noises. You can create much scarier moments in the privacy of your own home simply by coming up behind someone and screaming, "Boo!"

LOST SOULS is a supernatural thriller that borrows so liberally from previous movies that you'll swear that you've seen it before. But, no, you haven't since this is a new movie and not a re-release.

An Academy Award winning cinematographer (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), director Kaminski has LOST SOUL's cinematographer, Mauro Fiore, serve us some artsy images that look like homages to other thrillers from SEVEN to STIGMATA. The truly awful STIGMATA is also the picture to which moviegoers will most likely compare LOST SOULS. Personally I'd prefer LOST SOULS, but it's a close call. In defense of STIGMATA, it was at least laughably bad. LOST SOULS is more likely to have you just staring at the screen.

As the story opens, an older priest, Father Lareaux (John Hurt), accompanied by an attractive younger assistant, Maya Larkin (Winona Ryder), is busy behind closed doors performing an exorcism. I know what you are thinking now, "Been there. Done that." And if you want to see it done right, a re-release of THE EXORCIST is in the theaters now.
Well, the exorcism doesn't go as planned, but the exorcisee, Henry Birdson (John Diehl), does conveniently provide the name of the anti-Christ, Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin), the best selling author of "Vicious Intent," a book about serial killers. Actually, Henry puts Peter's name in code, but the code appears to be so simple that a third grader could break it.

Peter, of course, doesn't know that he's about to become the number one bad guy of all time, and, of course, Maya will risk life and limb to keep it from happening. People run around saying "The time of the transformation is near!" like the colonists saying "The Redcoats are coming!" If this transformation occurs, Peter will become the devil on earth just as God became man in Christ.

When one of the movie's tag lines -- "They've had their 2,000 years. Now it's our turn." -- is finally spoken, it produces the movie's only big laugh, albeit an unintentional one. The story, however, is instructive. We learn that if your digital clock ever reads 666, it's not a good sign.

LOST SOULS runs 1:35. It is rated R for violence/terror and some language and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

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