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.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes