Lost Souls (2000)
Director: Janusz Kaminski
Philip Baker Hall/Father James
Successful writer Peter (Chaplin) finds out that he will soon be host to the spirit of the anti-Christ. It's up to mascara abuser Maya (Ryder) to help him beat the clock and save his soul. How was your day?
Atmospheric flick that grabs you by the collar from the get go with its eerie style, lack of color and creepy settings but that lessens its grip a tad due to its slow pace. I don't have many complaints about this film. It's refreshing to see a movie that plays it down for a change. No big stunt pieces, no overbearing soundtrack, no slam bang light show finale. This flick takes the subtle path and this Arrow appreciated it.
The film doesn't have too much dialogue, it relies more on images to tell its story. That's how a few snags happen : if you cough, you'll probably miss Peter's (Ben) whole background info. And if you blink you'll miss Maya's (Ryder). The film lacks a bit in character development for two reasons : 1- there are a lot of characters 2- everything is tossed at you too fast. My advice : Don't cough or blink.
Another snag is the pace. The film is suppose to be a beat the clock style thang, find out how to stop Peter's possession before it's too late. But I really didn't feel the urgency. The characters just go from one place to another with no real sense of time. That affects the pace of the film, therefore making it feel a bit slow.
But overall this is a welcome return to an "Omen" kind of horror. It's subtle, creepy, smart and full of surprises. The film managed to scare me with original tactics and fascinate me with its fantastic story that's based in reality. You will believe the devil is among us.
Gore has nothing to do with this flick, it's more of a mind trip.
Winona Ryder is on and off. She's at her best when she doesn't talk and lets her puppy eyes do the acting. Ben Chaplin (Peter) is solid as a rock. He carries the film and I want to see more of him. Elias Koteas gets a throwaway part, pretty small. Philip Baker Hall (James) shines as always, you relish his screen time. John Hurt (Lareaux) spends most of the film lying in bed, earning that paycheck with ease. Sarah Wynter (Claire) isn't much of an actress but she sure is hot. John Diehl (Henry) is creepy (and very hairy) and does what he has to do.
T & A
Nudity is not part of this devil's plan.
The ace in the deck. Wow! This film is full of weird/creative shots, slow motion, playing with sounds and atmosphere to boot. The director butters the toast on both sides and it makes for a tasty meal. Wait till you see the knife in the eye shot. The film also seems to stripped of its color, which makes for an even bleaker setting.
Just like the film the score is very subtle and somewhat sad. No pop songs here.
This is an adult horror flick. It's story driven and doesn't have one "cheap scare" tactic. The pace might be a bit too slow for the Scream-loving crowd. But if patience is one of your virtues, you will enjoy this return to horror roots, that plays with your expectations and delivers full force with its visuals. The devil stays popular.
Ben Chaplin and Elias Koteas have teamed up before in The Thin Red Line.