Horror
Lost Souls
.
Dir: Janusz Kaminski
Star: Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin, John Hurt, Sarah Wynter
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2000
Format: DVD R2
'

Secular assistant to Father Lareaux (John Hurt) Maya Larkin ( Winona Ryder) is called upon to attend her boss at the exorcism of serial killer Henry Birdson (John Diehl). Birdson a former mild mannered mathematics teacher seemingly just flipped out and went on a killing spree, upon capture he proclaimed that demonic voices instructed him to kill. The Catholic church after deeming Birdson to be "genuinely possessed" order an exorcism to be carried out by Father Lareaux at the asylum where Birdson is being incarcerated.

Maya being a former victim of demonic possession who was "saved" by Father Lareaux is required to add her faith to that of Lareaux and his assistant Deacon John Townsend (Elias Koteas) during the ritual. The ritual however goes wrong and as Father Lareaux is left hyper-ventilating outside of Birdson's cell, Maya retrieves the cassette recorder and the pile of papers that Birdson had left lying upon his desk and retreats from the room as Birdson calmly sits strapped to his chair smiling innanely to himself.

Maya discovers a consistant numerical code written on Birdson's papers that she retrieved from his room and after tenaciously working to decipher it she succeeds and discovers that Satan is about to take up permanent possession of a soul and walk the Earth. The soul is that of Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin) a prominent author whose work deals with serial killers and "malignant narcisism" which is his way of saying that there is no good or evil. With Father Lareaux out of action Maya contacts Kelson and attempts to convince him of his impending fate, whilst Kelson has to battle with his beliefs and growing evidence toward Maya's theory.

Basically a rough merger or homage of two genre classic movies, The Exorcist and The Omen which is probably all that you could liken this film to really. Unlike the other two, Lost Souls lacks weight and cannot deliver as much of a punch to enthral and captivate the audience, I cannot decide whether that can be attributed solely to the direction by Kaminski or the story by Pierce Gardner.

The film does have some redeeming features and contains some very good and occasionally impressive photography and has some visually stunning moments, Kaminski's work on Schindlers List and Saving Private Ryan as cinematographer is recognisable throughout the film and he manages to make some wise use of special effects. (thank you Clay Pinney) ( Winona Ryder) heads a good cast and is bewildering as Maya, simply oozing with a captivating intensity which shines through a sometimes dull film. Ben Chaplin seems to struggle with the role of Kelson and he can be a little painful to watch in a serious acting role, the excessive close ups used to disguise his acting inadequacies only serve to frustrate you further. A fine performance from John Hurt as Father Lareaux and although you don't see a lot of him, his welcome presence brings a slightly more stark personality to the exorcist.

Mention should be made to some fine supporting performances from Elias Koteas (The Prophecy), John Diehl and Sarah Wynter.

The general pace of the film is inconsistent and it lacks the momentum or rythmn that it deserves, admittedly some of the visuals can be breathtaking but this doesn't compensate for what the film lacks. More a thriller than a horror film from my point of view, I would have to say that there is a intermittent lack of atmosphere and a some unfulfilled potential.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

DVD
Picture 16.9 Generally good picture quality but occasionally grainy
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Chillingly good and quite atmospheric
Features Series of Alternate and Deleted scenes some of which should have been used in the film
Cast & Crew Filmographies
Directors Commentary by Kaminski and Mauro Fiore (Cinematographer) which is quite laborious and features Kaminski talking about everything but the film.
Theatrical Trailer
Dull Semi Static Menu
Verdict Not a bad disc but the commentary is mind numbingly boring and the extensive amount of Deleted and alternate scenes indicate that the film makers obviously didn't really know what they were doing.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home