Lost Souls (2000) / Horror-Thriller

MPAA Rated: R for violence/terror and some language
Running Time: 97 min.

Cast: Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin, Sarah Winter, Philip Baker Hall
Director: Janusz Kaminski
Screenplay: Pierce Gardner

Review published October 15, 2000

Janusz Kaminski, the much lauded cinematographer for Spielberg films such as Saving Private Ryan, Amistad and Schindler's List, takes his first crack at directing with not too impressive results. This one could almost be called Rosemary's Baby 2: The Adult Years, as it deals with a man groomed to be the vessel by which Satan himself will take human form.

A biographer of serial killers, Peter Kelson (Chaplin, The Remains of the Day), is determined to be that man and the event will happen on his 33rd birthday, mere days away. Uncovering the secret (of which even Kelson is unaware) is Maya Larkin (Ryder, Autumn in New York), a young and not-too-stable woman who seeks Kelson's help in stopping the transformation.

Laughable as it sounds, Lost Souls at least tries to stay true to its form by maintaining an air of seriousness throughout. Kaminski shows his finesse as a cinematographer with gothic locales and very good use of lighting to set the mood.

The performances are also quite solid all around, adding the the credibility necessary to make a decent scary flick. All of the essential elements seemed in place save one, and it's crucial -- the script. Harnessing a mish-mash of plot devices you've seen before combined with no idea where it wants to go, Lost Souls' story is tepid at best, never seeming to be interesting despite the fantastical goings-on.

For a film barely over 90 minutes, there are too many scenes that aren't necessary and others that make almost no sense at all. At the conclusion, it seems only fitting that a climax to the movie was missing since it never built up anything to pay off with. I'm not sure where the Souls of the title are, but maybe they have the screenplay with them.

Qwipster's rating:

2000 Vince Leo