Lost Souls

Glum and Melancholy

Main Cast: Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin, Philip Baker Hall, Sarah Wynter

Director: Janusz Kaminski

Plot Summary: A group of Catholic priests, and one possessed survivor, believe that Satan is coming to Earth in the guise of a man. This man, a writer, is found and has to be convinced in order to save all humanity.

This brooding horror/thriller is definitely unique in the “Great Evil Comes To Life” genre. Usually these movies focus on an action hero and great special effects, usually huge raging fires while Good and Evil clash over the city/town/countryside. This tale is more of a drama than anything else, focusing on two main characters.

The main character is Maya Larkin (Ryder), a young woman haunted by dreams and her past. Apparently she went through an exorcism, and in this movie’s logic, such things as demons and devils are real. She now lives among the clergy and helps a select few out when they go off to perform exorcisms. One takes place inside a mental institution, during a scene of intense drama and screams of demented evil. The man leaves behind a code, which Maya manages to solve (why it’s written this way is left unexplained).

The code leads us to the second main character, Peter Kelson (Chaplin). He is a writer of true life crime, delving into the psyche of evil killers. Apparently the code indicates that he is going to be Satan on Earth on his next birthday. Maya brings him this news, and tries to convince him of it. Peter is understandably skeptical. He just sees a troubled young woman, and tries to research her past. Interestingly enough this does not turn into a romance. the film is far too sophisticated for that. The writer already has a girlfriend.

I must say the movie is glum and melancholy, with an undercurrent of sadness. Ryder plays her role well, uncertain on a few things, but not of her main goal: that Satan will be coming to Earth. Chaplin is good as the writer, scoffing at first, but slowly he comes around to her way of thinking. Of course a few supernatural things happen, although they are not over the top. And the ending does follow from the chain of events, although I would say that, in this world, God doesn’t show much mercy for the poor sap who never asked for his fate.

I kind of liked this, although it is pessimistic and not for cheering anyone up. But the plot flows nicely, the acting is solid, and it does not club you over the head with mindless violence or special effects.

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