Lost Souls in need of an exorcism

By Bo Rhodes

With Halloween fast approaching, movie companies are releasing "horror" flicks by the truckload. With the re-release of the 1973 classic The Exorcist, studios are playing a no-win game of catch-up.

Saving Private Ryan’s director of photography, Janusz Kaminski, makes his directorial debut with Lost Souls, a film that examines ideas of exorcism, demonic transformation and Satanism.

Maya Larkin (Winona Ryder) comes from a troubled past and in her youth was subjected to an exorcism by Father Lareaux (John Hurt). This event led to her inclusion in an underground sect of priests who believe that the devil will take human form in the not-too-distant future. During an exorcism performed by Lareaux and company, Larkin discovers that Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin) has been selected to be the mortal vessel who will become Satan.

Although Kelson was raised by his uncle Father James (Philip Baker Hall) after the grisly murder of his parents, he is a complete atheist. A novelist who specializes in serial killers, Kelson does not believe that evil "with a capital E" truly exists. Larkin tracks down Kelson and has the daunting task of not only convincing the disbeliever evil surrounds us, but that he will become evil personified.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out Kelson will eventually believe Larkin’s ludicrous story and the two spend the remainder of the film whining about what they should do.

Lost Souls is incredibly painful to watch. The pacing is beyond slow and viewers will need an almost masochistic outlook on life in order to sit through the picture. When the action and suspense begins to build, Kaminski halts it so suddenly the audience almost suffers from whiplash. Plot ideas which deserve further attention are ignored and fantastic leaps in logic are required in order to follow what happens. A prime example occurs when Kelson’s girlfriend is suddenly revealed as a Satanist and then… dies.

Chaplin does an average job portraying the disbelieving Kelson and Ryder is mediocre at best as Larkin. Someone should tell Ryder the frightened doe-eyed routine is wearing thin and that she would be better off portraying stronger characters such as Lydia in Beetlejuice.

Lost Souls comes across as an attempt to capitalize on The Exorcist’s fame and fails miserably. A digital clock has more suspense than this sad attempt at horror. The dark, dreary appearance of the film does little to add to the horror feel of the picture and comes across as producer Meg Ryan (that’s right, of City of Angels fame) trying to save some coin on lighting.

Overall, Lost Souls is an average effort and will most likely be over shadowed by its superior elder sibling The Exorcist.