Psychological Thriller
Soul Survivors
Dir: Steve Carpenter
Star: Casey Affleck, Eliza Dushku, Wes Bentley, Luke Wilson, Melissa Sagemiller.
Cert / Year: 12 - R / 2001
Format: DVD R2

On their first night at college, nice middle American teenager Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller) and her boyfriend Sean (Casey Affleck) have an argument, right before they have a car crash. Cassie and her ex-boyfriend Matt (Wes Bentley) along with his new girlfriend and Cassie's best friend Annabel (Eliza Dushku) survive the "horrific" accident, but Sean doesn't. Cassie tries to make a fresh start at college, but events of that night keep haunting her and dogg her waking moments. Visions of Sean haunt her as she tries to escape the clutches of a gang of "goths" from the local church based fetish joint they went to before the crash invade her waking moments. Fearing she is losing her mind, she turns to the benevolent father Jude (Luke Wilson), a local priest for help only to find that he has an almost stranger story. Cassie must face her fear as her unstable and fragile reality is tested, suggesting that maybe the world of the living and the world of the dead are not that far apart after all.

Soul Survivors is undoubtedly, one of the most uncaptivating and disinteresting films I have had to endure in recent years. The audience finds itself constantly assuring themselves that "it has to get better" and "maybe a story will kick in soon". These are, alas, mute hopes and the film unfortunately doesn't get better and a story doesn't surface from the quagmire that is the pitiful script.

The lacklustre direction of Steve Carpenter goes quite literally nowhere and does nothing with what little potential he had in the story, which he also wrote. Faults with the direction are highlighted by the poor pacing which ensures that the film lacks any momentum. The story "borrows" elements from various sources; the gothic club inside an old church has been done before and better, even in the awful An American Werewolf in Paris to mention but one. The swimming pool set piece is very poor and again has been done much better in several other films including a couple of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, not to mention bearing more than a little resemblence to the very similar scene in Urban Legend. The car accident thing, again has been done better elsewhere and here it plays out like a poor TV show accident scene. These are just a couple of very dissappointing points in the film, I could go on. Combined with other factors these all result in a pointless exercise in cinema and make this quite hard going. Un-entertaining, unstimulating, incoherent and poorly scripted at best. This really is quite awful, steer well clear of this turkey folks, it truly sucks!

Soul Survivors is no horror film and is hard pressed to be described as a "psychological thriller". One or two nicely shot set pieces creep in but that is all, a couple of good effect shots perhaps but very thin on the ground. The plot is so full of holes it makes you wonder if the teenage American demographic of this film really is that dumb?!! This film lacks tension and atmosphere, and struggles to be anything more than 1 dimensional. The all too frequent repetition of a chase, a vision, a ghost, a chase, a bout of useless and redundant sentimental rubbish closely followed by..... yep, you guessed it another chase. All this conducted with incessant strobe lighting and woeful predictability. You just never really give a damn about the characters, you would be much happier if they all just died horribly in the first 5 minutes and relieved you of the following 85 minutes. The film makers attempt to be clever and "place" subtle signs and portents throughout the film, but to be honest they just don't wash as you couldn't care less. After a certain point in this film, you just want it all to be over.

A cast lacking in substantial talent, flounder their way through this steaming excrement of a movie. Melissa Sagemiller fumbles her way through her terribly taxing role of running around being chased by apparitions, seeing "spooky" things, seeing her friend in a lesbian clinch, imagining sleeping with her ex boyfriend and swimming, lets not forget the swimming. Or maybe lets just forget the whole thing as it would be far less depressing as her performance, despite being one of the better ones it is not very inspiring. Former Buffy babe, Eliza Dushku tramps it up as the token slutty goth type character Annabel. Shame there was nothing else to her character other than that, as it is a bit of a waste, she doesn't seem to be doing as well away from TV as some of her former Buffy co-stars. Dushku and Sagemiller get to take a shower together (fully clothed) and even that manages to be unimpressive, and was almost interesting but falls dreadfully short in a "seen it all before" kind of way. More than a couple of subtle hints point toward a lesbian angle but these are not pursued. Angela Featherstone provides an eerie and piercing performance as Raven, and despite having one of the weakest parts in the film, she remains one of the most memorable. Casey Affleck is rather vaccuous and to be honest you would be happier if he wasn't even a ghost or just never appeared again. Overrall the cast just don't work, and the script doesn't help matters, combined with some very poor direction this is pretty bad.

It is easy to see that this is made by the same cretins that made I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend, that should have been a good enough reason not to watch this turkey. Mind numbing, horrendous and a dissatisfying, convoluted waste of 90 minutes with no redeeming features. Even "no-brain" entertainment has it's limtations!


The world of the dead and the world of the living....... are about to collide.

Rating: 0 out of 5

Glitz's say:

Soul Survivors is a mess. The box says that this is a psychological horror movie. Erm no. That is maybe what the studio wanted, but what they had was another teenage slasher movie, just as this sort of thing was past its sell by date. No problem then just remove all of the violence and nudity and hack what is left into little tiny pieces. Cobble what is left together and call it Soul Survivors.

This is a pity as the actors involved are pretty good and deserve much better. Eliza Dushku and Wes Bentley have already displayed that they have ability in Bring it On and American Beauty respectively, but here they are given precious little to work with.

While the dialogue is bland it really isn't awful, it's just that what is left of the story makes no sense. I mean what is it with the guy in mask or the strange club. Just who is dead and do we care. It is a real shame as something along the lines of a teenage Jacob's Ladder might have been a fun film. What is left is a waste of a talented young cast.

So while is film isn't good by any means, it isn't a complete write off. There are the merest sparks of a potential lurking deep down inside this butchered mess. Unfortunately in its present form it can't be recommended to anyone.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Picture 16.9 Not bad quality but occasionally grainy - bad sign for a modern film
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Good but doesn't make very good use of the medium
Animated menu
Deleted scenes and an alternate ending
Set of "Production notes"
Animated storyboard sequence
Small 'Making Of' featurette
Bizarre 'Harvey Danger' featurette. As relevant as it is boring.
Verdict Not a terrible disc really, but the film is so what extras you get are overshadowed by the awfulness of the film.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Link Back Top Home