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The fact that so many people hated this film comes as no surprise to me, but
not, I believe, because it was a bad film. On the contrary this was a superb
film that has, for those willing to look beneath the surface, a much deeper
story to be told.
Simply put, the film is not 'feel-good'. The subject matter is disturbing, and challenges one's view of religion and belief in the existence of God and Satan.
As we are taken through the film, the director immerses us in the world Maya Larkin (played very well by Winona Ryder), a person who has previously been demonically possessed. She discovers that a semi-famous author, Peter Kelson (played by Ben Chaplin) is about to become the antichrist incarnate, and obviously sets out to prevent this event.
The plot develops slowly, but inevitably. Excellent use of sound and lighting create a chilling atmosphere, in which it becomes difficult to separate reality from the horrors which the victims have to face. As we approach the climax of the film, things start happening faster and faster, and the plot becomes intentionally a bit confusing. As an audience we are made to empathize with the lead characters as they realise time is running out and their course of action remains unclear, and that all they can do is ride along and try to figure out what is happening before it is too late.
The themes drawn upon in this film are very similar to those in "End of Days" but with far more emphasis placed on the psychological drama - more like "Stigmata" - than on the action and special effects of "End of Days", making Lost Souls in my opinion a far better film.
Be prepared for a major plot twist at the end. The director does not state the obvious, yet we are given clues throughout the film, many of which make little or no sense at the time they are portrayed, but which snap into place if you get the ending. The sudden conclusion and lack of any final explanation communicate the intent clearly enough and left me feeling a bit blown away - although in my opinion left most of the audience feeling confused and let down, expecting more and wondering what happened.
If you can appreciate a well crafted, and subtle film, and prefer a movie that makes you think, and does not necessarily have happy messages, then you should enjoy this film. It forces you into thinking about it, and by no means classifies as light entertainment. If you go to movies to be entertained by action and easy to follow plots, then stay clear - this film was never intended to appeal to most people.
Personally I have seen far too many of those films in recent months and found Lost Souls to be remarkably refreshing.
Look, I'm a sucker for a good eschatological/apocalyptic thriller. Something
totally fascinates me about that stuff. After the sheer stupidity of the
illogical 'Stigmata' and especially the lame-brained 'End Of Days', I had a
lot of hope for 'Lost Souls'. Sadly, it fails to deliver. Hollywood
disappoints yet again!
Winona Ryder plays a troubled young woman who believes that Satan is planning on being reborn in human form, and kicking some Christian ass. Ben Chaplin plays a crime writer who Winona thinks is the Devil in waiting. Instead of just shooting him and doing the world a favour, she forms an uneasy relationship with him. What exactly she plans on doing is hard to say. That's the whole problem with this movie. The 'Se7en'-esque visuals are more important than a decent script. The characters motivations don't really make sense, and as soon as the plot looks like it's going to go is some kind of interesting direction, it doesn't. After a certain point you give up even caring what happens, surely a bad sign in a movie where the whole fate of mankind is at stake?!
Ryder used to be effective as alienated teens back in the late 80s in favourites like 'Beetlejuice' and 'Heathers', but lets face facts, movies like this and 'Girl, Interrupted' show how limited her range really is. She hasn't grown as an actress and is basically just not believable.
Ben Chaplin showed some flair for light comedy in 'The Truth About Cats And Dogs', and had a few outstanding moments in Terrence Malik's wildly uneven and overrated 'The Thin Red Line', but he fails to interest here. Ryder and Chaplin don't show any on screen chemistry or rapport, and this sinks the movie even further into terminal boredom.
The talented character actors in the supporting cast - John Hurt, Kevin Baker Hall, Elias Koteas, John Diehl - are all wasted by the dull and cliched script. Add to that one of the most anti-climactic endings in recent memory, and you've got yourself one lame "thriller" that is a real lost opportunity.
If movies about Satanism, demonic possession, Occult conspiracies and/or The-End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It are your scene, avoid this snoozefest and go straight to 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'The Exorcist', both stylish AND genuinely scary classics. After that try the hugely overlooked 80s supernatural Demi Moore flick 'The Seventh Sign', and the more recent Christopher Walken vehicle 'The Prophecy', or the fantastic Spanish comedy/horror 'The Day Of The Beast', both from the mid-90s. These movies all feature more intelligence, originality and suspense than 'Lost Souls' could ever dream of having.
I can make absolutely no sense of each and every one star review which
calls this film horrible as well as the 4.7 rating. It is unfathomable
to me. The cinematography alone should warrant a rating of at least 5.
This is a subtle religious horror flick that I have to assume people rejected because of the lack of scares and gore. However, the performances, direction and cinematography are all top notch. Though Lost Souls was marketed to look like a demonic scare-fest, I would compare this film to the likes of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. In fact, I would not be surprised if the makers of that film borrowed quite heavily from this one, both in style and effects.
The premise is relatively simple: A small religious sect believe the coming of the anti-Christ to be near, sitting dormant in a human body.
The biggest praise that I can bestow upon this film is that over 12 years later, this film still looks like it could have been made yesterday. In fact, it looks uncannily more modern than a large majority of recent horror efforts. Lost Souls simply does not age.
Another popular factor in why this movie is so poorly rated and received is the fact that audiences just did not like the ending. I feel sorry for those that do not. The ending is original, and though it did not satisfy blood thirsty Hollywood horror fans, it is very much appropriate for this film. To put it simply without spoiling anything: faith is the central core to Lost Souls, those with it and those without. That is what this ending plays off of, and I think it's perfect. Please do not let any of these negative reviews divert you from seeing this film.
This is not End of Days or Stigmata. Lost Souls is not camp in the slightest. It is a dark, beautifully shot and well acted film that is significantly ahead of it's time.
In this horror effort, Winona Ryder (my has her career fallen) plays a young woman who once went through an exorcism (?) and now finds herself as the one person who can prevent Satan himself from occupying the body of a normally decent enough New Yorker (do decent New Yorkers exist??) Ryder does her best with the supernatural material and Ben Chaplin as the perplexed chosen one is decent. The story and direction (by first time director and award winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski) rachet up the thrills and suspense and arent afraid to offer a downbeat ending. Sometimes gets obsessed with style over substance however. GRADE: B-
This was a fairly good "Devil" story and certainly worth renting.
GOOD - Decent suspense and cinematography and kudos for pointing out there IS a Satan and converting a non-believer to that fact. Winona Ryder looks very pretty, too, as good as I've seen her. This was before her real-life problems put her in the news and her career took a nosedive. Also the profanity is pretty low in here.
BAD - A somewhat-disappointing finish; some skewed theology (but not as bad as most movies); same cliché scenes where a person should have been shot but the shooter hesitates way too long and is stopped; priests winding up as villains.
OVERALL - it's not a bad film and could have been really good with a tighter script and a little more suspense at the end.
Winona had just had a big hit with "Girl Interrupted," and Ben Chaplin
was impressive doing Montgomery Cliff's "The Heiress" part in
"Washington Square." So what possessed them to do a cheesy "Exorcist"
meets "the Omen" and "Rosemary's Baby" formula movie? In any case, the
movie has a good opening twenty minutes and promises real scary stuff
to come. You don't know anything about the characters or what's going
on and that makes it a little frustrating, but you can forgive the
movie for that. Unfortunately, the movie becomes less scary the more
the silly plot and characters gets revealed. Probably the silliest
moment comes when Winona tells Ben that he fits the profile for the
"antichrist" because he's never been baptized. It is hard to see how
Winona Horowitz could say such a thing with a straight face.
Apparently the first time director is a great cinematographer. That is usually not such a good thing. Yes, Stanley Kubrick did make the transition, but most cinematographers are too concerned with the lighting and have no idea how to direct actors. That turns out to be the case here, where everybody is just doing monotone line readings.
I confess my love for Winona, but even her presence only makes the film barely watchable and not quite enjoyable or fun.
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.
This movie is simply too predictable.
It runs along the "the devil is coming" lines, with other movies in the genre being "Judgement Day" and "Stigmata", but it completely fails to bring in any new elements.
Many of the things that are supposed to be scary, are too old fashioned and poorly cut by the editor, so you are left with an impression of a handful actors sticking to a manuscript without putting any effort into their performance.
For me, this movie rates on level with any 2 hour slow motion movie picturing a cup of jello hitting the floor.
Oooohhhh! Bluuuuub-bluuuuub-bluuuuuuub-bluuuuuub-bluuuuuub. Splat.
I really don't have any idea what some of the other reviewers are talking
about. There's no hidden depth to this movie at all. It's shallow, pretty
look at, and nothing happens.
There's absolutely no ambiguity about who the devil is. I mean, Bros' long theory on Winona being the actual devil is good an all, except near the end when he shoots his two accomplices and they were offering him unlimited power. yadda yadda
The devil is almighty, but apparently he can't survive a gunshot wound, or prevent the clocks from turning 666 just as he makes his vulernable transofrmation. Wow! Thank the heavens for digital clocks, she might not never have known!
STUPIDEST MOVIE EVER
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What is the point of this film? To tease the audience? This entire film does nothing but say "hey hear is a bunch of scary noises and screams something interesting is happening behind this door but we're not going to show you!" the audience waits for hours for something that finally happens in the last five minutes of the movie. When it finally happens it's two easy and very uneventful. (Spoiler) it would have been more interesting if this man became the devil earlier on in the movie. That would have made it harder for Winona Ryder's character and it would have provided at least an once of suspense for the audience. Instead we were all like..."What...that's it?" this movie had the potential to be a better film but it just simply wasn't. We're suppose to be dealing with an extremely evil power and all it took was one bullet...come on! Ryder should have stolen a better script.
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