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Lost Souls (2000)
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Review Date: October 11, 2000
Director: Janusz Kaminski
Writer: Pierce Gardner
Producers: Meg Ryan and Nina R. Sadowsky
Actors:
Winona Ryder as Maya Larkin
Ben Chaplin as Peter Kendell
John Hurt
Plot:
A best-selling author has apparently been chosen by Satan to become his physical vehicle to return to earth. A young woman, who herself once went through an exorcism of her own, takes it upon herself to try and convince the skeptic writer of his oncoming doom. Will they be able to save the young man in time or will Satan come back to earth and kick mighty human ass?
Critique:
Despite its lame title, general feeling of deja-vu and somewhat slow pace, I enjoyed this film based on its interesting script, abundance of creepy atmosphere, grungy look and neat-o ending. Yes, I'm as sick of "satanic thrillers" as the next guy, but all things considered, this movie kept me interested pretty much the whole way through, and that's a mighty big chore at this point. It didn't have any major plot holes, it had a very believable character in the lead, one Ben Chaplin, and it didn't bog the story down with all kinds of biblical mumbo jumbo. The one thing that did surprise me about this film was its lack of MTV-ness. I say that only because its trailer makes it look like yet another thrill-a-minute, split-second edited, soundtrack enhanced disposable horror movie, but that is far from what we have here. This movie doesn't have any fake scares. It doesn't play the latest "teen band" on the soundtrack and it doesn't feature any nutballs in masks. It's eerie, features a dark look and muddled cinematography, saddled up to an appropriately brooding score and exorcisms galore (nice timing on the release, guys...just as THE EXORCIST is scaring up the youngens in the theatres).

I liked this movie because it was able to pull me into its world and make me a believer. Forget BLESS THE CHILD (3/10) and END OF DAYS (5/10), movies featuring name actors hopping around plot holes left and right. Ben Chaplin won me over in this film. He turns out to be the poor chap who is about to be taken over by Satan himself, and as you would expect, he's quite distraught by the thought. A couple of scenes from this film even managed to stick in my mind, especially one really great scene early on featuring a bathroom which suddenly becomes...well, possessed of sorts. A highly stylized film. I suppose that the story could've benefited from a few more "thrilling" moments, and certainly been cut by about ten minutes in the middle, but all in all, this late entry into the satanic world of Hollywood thrillers, generally held my attention. Winona Ryder, I could've done without, but kudos to Chaplin for convincing me of the possibility of his dilemma. I look forward to seeing what director Janusz Kaminski will take on next. Not a film that will win over the MTV generation, but definitely a decent creepy thriller that'll keep you on your toes while cuddled under a blanket, late at night, all by yourself. Far from being a classic, but decent as a stylishly passable concoction.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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