Lost Souls Review

by Susan Granger (Ssg722 AT aol DOT com)
October 14th, 2000


Susan Granger's review of "LOST SOULS" (New Line Cinema)
    You gotta wonder about a Winona Ryder movie that was supposed to be released in 1999 and doesn't make it into theaters until Friday the 13th in October, 2000. In this faith vs. reason supernatural thriller, Winona plays a devout Catholic who is not only obsessed with the concept of demonic possession but often hallucinates about Satan. She was once exorcised by a priest (John Hurt) and is now convinced that the Devil is about to re-appear on Earth in the body of an atheistic, best-selling criminology writer (Ben Chaplin) who believes "Good and Evil are only illusions" and that serial killers are motivated by "malignant narcissism." True, he's been troubled by weird dreams in which the letters XES appear. When his brother points out that the letters spell SEX backwards, he's mollified - at least until he learns that XES is also the Roman numeral "666," the sign of the Devil, and a renegade priest tries to shoot him, muttering, "The time of transformation is near!" Written by Pierce Gardner, this mangled, derivative muddle of banal mumbo-jumbo is based on his story with Betsy Stahl, and Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski ("Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan") makes an inauspicious directorial debut. Working with lenser Mauro Fiore, Kaminski's stark, stylized lighting and surrealistic imagery create a creepy atmosphere of murky darkness, heightened by Jay Riddle's special effects and Jan Kacmarek's score. It's no stretch for Winona Ryder to be a terrified, wide-eyed waif (i.e.: "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "Alien IV"), but credit Ben Chaplin for not laughing at her when he says: "You really should get some professional help." On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Lost Souls" is a far-fetched 2. "Deliver us from evil..." says the ads. Deliver us from movies like this!

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