Reviewed by GREG KING
Many cinematographers have turned their hand to directing, with varied degrees of success. The latest to make the transition is Oscar winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who shot Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, amongst others. While there is little doubt about his ability to capture striking visual images, his choice of material and lack of story telling skills leave a lot to be desired.
Lost Souls is another in a long line of Satanic possession and demonic apocalypse movies (Stigmata, Bless The Child, etc) to hit our screens. While it seems to have been heavily influenced by classics of the genre like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist and their ilk, it is a rather bland, dull film, bereft of any genuine sense of uneasiness or suspense and burdened by a surfeit of tired clichés.
Lost Souls casts cinema’s favourite waif Winona Ryder as Maya, a troubled young woman who assists a Catholic priest in a series of exorcisms. Formerly possessed by a demon herself years ago, Maya was released from her torment by an ailing priest (John Hurt, wasted in a small and thankless role), who has now become her mentor. After attending an exorcism at a local psychiatric hospital, Maya stumbles across a complex code written by the victim, which leads her to a satanic conspiracy to unleash the devil in human form upon the world. The trail of clues leads Maya to Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin, from The Truth About Cats And Dogs, etc), a famous author who specialises in writing about serial killers, who is also the innocent pawn in this conspiracy.
Lost Souls demands a huge suspension of disbelief, but very few in the audience will be willing to accept the film’s flawed logic. The film also wastes a solid cast on substandard material, and few of the performances are credible. Kaminski’s use of moody lighting, sepia tones and fragmented editing style adds atmosphere, but unfortunately fails to compensate for the muddled narrative and nonsensical plotting. Following so soon after the re-release of the director’s cut of The Exorcist, Lost Souls seems positively anemic by comparison.
This whole disappointing farrago was surprisingly produced by Meg Ryan, who really should have known better!