|If ever a horror movie could be singled out for using every single ďtrickĒ in the book, Soul Survivors would have all its competitors beat. In what might be the most offensive and lamest excuse to get a pair of scantily clad young women in a shower together, this movie is more laughable than believable. Since the movie has first and foremost been advertised as a horror film (or perhaps thriller), assuming the movie to be scary or gripping is not an unreasonable expectation. But the filmmakers seemed to insist on using story techniques that have been drawn upon in various like-minded films for at least a few decades.|
Like repetitive sequences where the main character wanders down a hallway, dizzy with fright (there are several of these). Main character "Cassie," played lethargically by Melissa Sagemiller, is trapped in this type of scene far too often for the filmís rather short running time. The length of this film is so short that calling it a feature length film might not be accurate. Perhaps if thirty minutes worth of commercials were inserted at various points of the film, the length would seem more ďfeatureĒ like. (I am implying here that this film shouldnít have gone to theatrical release) The film is no scarier than an episode of network television, and given that this film has none of the restrictions of network TV, thatís quite an insult.
But this filmís lame story and repetitive execution isnít cause for the biggest affront to the picture. The largest mistake in the film seems to have been casting and dialogue. The combination of weak, flaccid performances from a group of actors which most have proven their acting mettle in previous films, makes for a confusing film, given that itís impossible to care about any of the characters. Sagemiller plays her role without an iota of intelligence or authenticity. Though perhaps itís harsh to judge her performance as such, given that the dialogue she says sounds like it was written by a four year old. Itís an easy bet that people in horror films are stupid people (they walk into dark cellars alone, they ďsplit upĒ from their friends, they forget to grab a knife before walking into an obvious trap), but when there is an absence of interesting things for them to say, their stupidity is so much more obvious.
One can hardly recognize the lack of talent coming from Wes Bentley, as the clarity and intelligence he displayed in American Beauty is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps his talent was left on the cutting room floor because of the lackluster performances of his co-stars. That would at least clear up the mystery concerning the short length of the film. If anything, the film starts out on a mildly successful note, but after a few scenes, the plot already begins to repeat itself. Like the screenwriter decided to give his characters stupid pet tricks to perform throughout the film instead of giving them a unique plot to wade through.
But barring further insults to the actors in the film (which really, the bad performances might have been the result of an impossible screenplay), the bottom line is that the film just isnít scary. Itís far too meandering and predictable for that. Even the ending, which is so obviously supposed to shock the audience, can be surmised quite a few minutes before the film takes that turn. Though itís doubtful a viewer will make it to the end of this film actually caring about the destiny of any of the characters. One of its largest faults is a failure to make its characters sympathetic. The sole true protagonist of the film (Sagemillerís performance) is so lifeless the audience would probably hope that she doesnít survive the film, which is not the best feeling to attach to what is supposed to be the character the audience identifies with and places all their hopes in.
The short and sweet of it is that Soul Survivors should have never survived the cut to theatrical release. Showing up quietly on video store shelves would have been a more suitable course of action for the filmmakers, and a . Already delayed from its original release day by an entire year, the film probably could have made its distributor some money through video rentals and could have existed as a hearty tax write-off for the filmmakers. In any case, the look of the film probably feels the same regardless of the size of the screen (i.e. television or projection). Suffice it to say that potential viewers of this film should wait until Blockbuster starts displaying it on store shelves under the ninety-nine cent banner before attempting to watch it.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.