Lost Souls
dir Janusz Kaminski scr Pierce Gardner
with Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin, John Hurt, Philip Baker Hall, Elias Koteas, Sarah Wynter, Alfre Woodard, John Diehl, Brian Reddy, Victor Slezak, James Lancaster, Mike Smythe
release US 13.Oct.00; UK 12.Jan.01
NewLine 00/US 1h38 2 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Soulmates. Maya (Ryder) tries to help Peter (Chaplin) cope with the fact that he's turning into the devil. As you do.
Does anyone really think they have an original satanic thriller up their sleeve? This one is Rosemary's Baby meets The Exorcist, with more ludicrous mumbo jumbo than both of those films combined. Maya (Ryder) is a true believer involved with some sort of Catholic sect that's trying to stop the incarnation of the Antichrist. He's the nice-guy unbeliever Peter Kelson (Chaplin), a serial killer biographer who's poised to assume the consciousness of Pure Evil on his 33rd birthday. Can Maya and her cohorts (including Hurt and Koteas) stop this from happening? Or as one villainous character puts it, after 2000 years of Christianity will the devil finally get his chance to rule earth?

Epic battles between believers and sceptics can make for gripping cinema, and at least this one has a visually inventive director in Oscar-winning cinematographer Kaminski. The film looks fantastic, even if all the whizzy camera work and slo-mo effects aren't strictly necessary. At least the creepy angles, grainy colour scheme and streaming shafts of light keep us watching while the story gets increasingly silly and pedestrian. Ryder is fine in the internally anguished role; Chaplin is once again better than the film he's starring in; and the fine supporting cast lends the movie a lot more credibility than the script deserves. But aside from the impressive imagery and dodgy hocus-pocus mythology, Kaminski knows that the best jolts come from the most obvious place: things that go bump in the dark.

[15--themes, violence, language] 12.Dec.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall