Lost Souls

Poor Winona Ryder. This is the second movie in a row where the studio releasing the movie did some inane tactic that is a big warning flag for "HEY, THIS MOVIE SUCKS!" The studio did not release Autumn in New York for press screenings, which usually means the film stinks. Studios also finished Lost Souls over a year ago, and gave many reasons (none good) for delaying its release. In the meantime, movies such as Stigmata, End of Days, Bless the Child and even The Ninth Gate and the re-release of The Exorcist emerged, proving that audiences, for the most part, are indifferent towards these kinds of movies. And that Satan must have a great casting agent. And that most of these movies are bad.

Even if Lost Souls was not a retread of the aforementioned movies, it would still be bad. Betsy Stahl and Pierce Gardner's story does not kick in until the midway point of the movie. The first forty-five minutes are almost worthless, doing little in terms of character development or moving the story along. Maya Larkin (Ryder, Autumn in New York, Girl, Interrupted) works for the Catholic Church. Kind of. She is looking for Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin, The Thin Red Line, The Truth About Cats and Dogs), a novelist and the man she believes will be Satan incarnate. She discovered his name by decoding some messages by a possessed madman (her method of decryption will cause all mathematicians to cringe in horror). The exorcism went horribly wrong, nearly killing her mentor in the process. Now, she must find Kelson and do something before other people do. It's not clear what she needs to do, because no one ever reveals it.

Ryder is great actress, but this is not her kind of role. Larkin constantly sulks and has no depth to her character. On the other hand, Kelson is smart, or supposedly is. He is initially extremely skeptical about Larkin's claims. When strange things begin to happen, he quickly believes that everything is true. The Church, which should play a larger part in the story, is nearly absent, except to scold her. Many random events seem to affect the story, making things unbelievably frustrating. How can anybody follow a story that does not make any real sense? Waiting for the ending is not worth it either. It is anticlimactic and underwhelming. The one good thing of Lost Souls is its look. Director Janusz Kaminski (the director of photography from Saving Private Ryan) shoots everything in muted browns, sepias, and oranges. People look paler and weaker, and the surroundings look more mysterious. Kaminski creates a moody atmosphere, perfect for this type of movie, but the story fails to come up to par. Does this redeem Lost Souls? No.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated R for violence/terror and some language.

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