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New Line Home Cinema presents
"They had their 2000 years, now it is our turn"
DVD ReviewA few weeks ago I wrote that the religious thriller was close to wearing out its welcome. After watching Lost Souls I am convinced that the genre needs to start packing and head out on the next bus. I don't have a large problem with the genre itself; my only objection is that every story is the same.
Lost Souls, the latest man-versus-Satan picture, it seems that everything is par for the course: an ordinary citizen is unknowingly thrust into an apocalyptic situation and must enlist the help of a member of the opposite sex, one who in their life has had their faith tested. In Lost Souls, Maya Larkin (Ryder), is a young woman whose soul was saved by Father Lareaux (Hurt) when he performed an exorcism on her. Lareaux is convinced that the anti-Christ is about to make his appearance on Earth, and when an exorcism goes horribly wrong, leaving him incapacitated, his fears are confirmed. Maya takes on his workload, eventually finding the man who will soon become Satan's human form: Peter Kelson (Chaplin), a best-selling author who writes books about mass murderers. With disaster looming, Maya must convince Peter that he is indeed the target and find out if there is a way to stop the transformation.
Whether or not I would have enjoyed Lost Souls more had it been the only religious thriller released is marred by the fact that the movie isn't very involving. The characters are never interesting, and while we are saved the obligatory romance between Maya and Peter, neither Ryder nor Chaplin has chemistry with each other.
What saves Lost Souls from being a total disappointment is the direction of first time helmer Janusz Kaminski. Kamisnki has such a strong visual style that he almost seems wrong for the movie. Using various filters and angles, Kaminski creates a truly unique world; unfortunately the screenplay isn't as creative. After cutting his teeth as a Spielberg regular on projects like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, for which he won Oscars®, Kamisnki has promise and I am looking forward to his next trip behind the camera.
Winona Ryder, who has fallen from her perch as a one-time rising star, now has the distinct pleasure of starring in two of the biggest box office disappointments of 2000. First came the dismal Autumn in New York and now the marginally better Lost Souls. While Ryder isn't given much to work with, she fails to give the viewer a reason to care for her. Chaplin, an actor I have liked for quite some time, plays his usual self here and while it is fine in films like The Truth About Cats and Dogs, it doesn't quite work here. Other supporting performances by Elias Koteas and Phillip Baker Hall amount to nothing more than cameos.
I have a friend who claims that films can easily be divided into two categories. The first is the "complete film", where everything works and character resolutions are handled well and all questions are answered. The second is the "almost film", a picture where so much goes right but there are moments that keep it from being watchable. Lost Souls is the classic example of an "almost film". For nearly an hour and a half the movie is, for the most part, passively entertaining. But the ending drags the picture down to the levels of just another horror movie. The closing moments are simply a gyp.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: The 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer from the folks at New Line is indeed a tricky one to judge. The intentionally soft and grainy look of Mauro Fiore's cinematography comes off well, but at times it is hard to tell whether the grain present is intentional. I would assume that it is, and if that is the case this transfer is yet another top-notch effort from new line. The subdued blues and greens come off especially well and many of the blacks are reproduced with great clarity. No print flaws or pixelation is evident and detail is spot on. This is a very good transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: For only the second time New Line has produced both the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as well as a DTS surround track. And while it is hard to tell the difference between the two mixes, each comes off sounding absolutely fantastic. The surround speakers never really get a chance to quiet down even in the more dialogue heavy moments. The .1 LFE channel hits hard on more than one occasion, and the music score is clear and crisp. Dialogue is clean and always easy to understand. And as is generally the case with a horror film, the audio mix makes the film better.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
10 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director janusz Kaminski and Cinematographer Mauro Fiore
Layers Switch: 01h:04m:40s
Extras Review: While not labeled as a New Line Platinum Series title, Lost Souls has a fairly nice set of extras. A commentary by director Janusz Kaminski and cinematographer Mauro Fiore leads off, and while I was expecting better, it does have some good points. At the start of the track the audio is played with a little, lending a nice feel to the proceedings and is even a bit eerie. For the most part the two talk about their thoughts on each scene, as well as the task of testing and previewing films. The one thing that would have made this track better would have been a bit more discussion on the much delayed release of the film.
Kaminski provides (with or without commentary) ten deleted scenes, and like most cut scenes there isn't really anything here worth note. The film's theatrical trailer rounds out the extras.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsOn a purely technical level, Lost Souls works. But the screenplay makes it just another thriller and makes a recommendation from me tough. The audio and video transfers are first rate and even the menus are worth a look, but this is truly a rental.
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