A small group of Catholics led by an ailing priest believe that Satan intends to become man, just as God did in the person of Jesus. The writings of a possessed mental patient lead them to ... See full summary »
A small group of Catholics led by an ailing priest believe that Satan intends to become man, just as God did in the person of Jesus. The writings of a possessed mental patient lead them to Peter Kelson, a writer who studies serial killers. They think it's his body Satan will occupy. The youngest in the group, a teacher named Maya Larkin, goes to Peter to investigate further and to convince him to believe in the possibility of Evil incarnate. Other signs come to him as he and Maya them take a journey full of strange occurrences, self-discovery, and an ultimate showdown. Written by
The film was initially supposed to be released in October 1999. Its trailer was in theaters in Summer 1999. However, due to a flood of "End of the World" movies coming out at the exact same time (End of Days (1999), Stigmata (1999), etc...), the decision was made to delay the film. Its new date was 4 February 2000. However, that date was canceled after the very popular "Scream" franchise staked out that date for its final installment, Scream 3 (2000). The final release date of 13 October 2000, was finally decided upon, which also happened to be the same exact day as the re-release of The Exorcist (1973). See more »
When Maya and Peter meet for the first time, the word processor screen on his laptop repeatedly changes. The screen alternates between a whole-page layout and split-page depending on the shot. See more »
Maya Larkin is the assistant of an exorcist priest. One day, she deciphers what she thinks might be a code in the revelations of one of the possessed victim she interacts with. A code that may lead to unveiling the identity of the man about to become the anti-Christ.
I remember seeing this movie at the time it came out and being terribly disappointed and frustrated because there were flashes of brilliance beneath all the crap. The perspective of seeing the first movie directed by one of the greatest cinematographer of our time, Janusz Kaminski, was enticing for any film buff. Furthermore, it was around the turn of the new millennium and so a lot of horror and occult movie fans were waiting to see a great film tackling those genres. It just seemed... topical. Unfortunately, we were treated to several attempt who all flopped and Lost Souls was one of the worst tries.
At the heart of every movie is a story and here, the writers have done an awful job. A bunch of amateurs wouldn't screw up this bad. Who opens up a movie with a fictional quote from the bible? What kind of awful writer can't come up with genuine material from such a huge book? But here, the writer have come up with an awful story that goes like this. Satan is going to possess a man (born of incest) on his 33rd birthday. Wow.
The central character in the story is Maya Larkin, played by Winona Ryder. I was never a big fan of Ryder but recognize her appeal as a generation X icon. But this role probably was the final nail to her declining A-list status. Larkin is a poorly written character that doesn't make any sense. She doesn't act like a real person nor does her presence around people of the church feels remotely believable. I think Ryder could have done better here but certainly, she started at a disadvantage due to writing.
Opposite Larkin is Peter Kelson, a writer who specializes in demystifying the mind of serial killers. This secondary character is less sketchy and comes alive thanks to actor Ben Chaplin. At the time the movie was shot, Chaplin was an unknown actor. This was on the heels of his role in the acclaimed Thin Red Line. I must say that Chaplin's performance is one of the few redeeming qualities of this movie. He is always believable and his acting in the final scene is what makes Lost Souls still memorable to this day.
Surrounding these two characters are a bunch of nonsensical characters who act pretty like pawns. Most are played by crappy actors although we get two amazing veterans as well in key roles. Philip Baker Hall and John Hurt are wonderful actors but here, they had nothing to work with. Their characters are sketchy, incongruity abounds and it looks like they mailed their performances.
Aside from Chaplin's performance, the other saving grace of this film is the cinematography but here, we have a mixed bag. Many scenes of exteriors and interiors have a jaw-dropping beauty and ethereal quality to them. This movie, it must be said, has aged very well in this respect. There's a timeless quality to the cinematography that is certainly due to director Janusz Kaminski. One of the main person responsible for the look of several Spielberg movies, among others. Many scenes are delightful and atmospheric.
However, this is a mixed bag. Every scene where tension should be present pretty much flops. For instance, all the exorcism scenes are awful. And seem to come straight from a FOX occult show like the X-Files, using black and white image and devoid of absolutely any impact. You never feel scared. Worse, it doesn't even feel tensed. As a viewer, you just sit there and remotely watch was is happening. Kaminski is also totally unable to film kinetic scenes. Any scene where a car bumps into something, or people draw knives or guns is sketchy, unfinished, amateurish and devoid of any life.
Much has been said of "plot twists" within the film. You can read about those in the Lost Souls forum on IMDb but really, none of the theories hold of to any scrutiny. What we have here is not ambiguous writing with possible twists but just plain bad writing. The final scene impacted me as a viewer but can't save a movie that has a nonsensical plot that isn't even remotely based on genuine religious history. It's just made up stuff by awful writers, turned into a movie y a first time director who was way over his head.
It's still heartbreaking because there are things Janusz Kaminski obviously excels at but the overall direction of a film was too much at this point. Maybe a more solid script would have helped him. Since then, Kaminski has been back to his cinematographer gig alongside Spielberg. He never directed a movie again but here we are, ten years later and it appears his next directorial effort is in production. Hopefully he learned from the previous experience!
Avoid Lost Souls at all costs, or skip to the final scene.
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