September 2001 was a month of terrible movies. With a couple of exceptions, it was home to such movies as The Musketeer, Rockstar, Hardball, Zoolander and Hearts of Atlantis, Glitter, and the movie in focus right now, Soul Survivors.
Soul Survivors is marketed as a horror movie and the way the director, Steve Carpenter, treats it that is the only genre it can really fit into, but really, it isn't. It has slasher elements and ghost story elements, but the story is neither, so that says one thing: Soul Survivors is a very confused movie, and the director messed up his own screenplay.
The movie is very predictable. Two college-aged couples get in a bad accident and the driver's boyfriend is killed. Of course, she starts seeing visions of him, not to mention of a masked person who stalks her (no, like I said, it isn't a slasher flick). The ending, though, is revealed shortly after the accident when the two girls look in the mirror. Carpenter was obviously trying to clue the audience into his "twist ending," but you're not supposed to give it away.
I must admit that I was somewhat intrigued to find out exactly how the movie was going to end, but it was more a matter of making sure that I was right. By about halfway through the movie you are so tired of the bad directing and lame plot "twists" that I didn't care, but since it was so short I decided to just watch the whole thing.
Soul Survivors really has bad directing. It is a boring thriller, but a thriller nonetheless. Not a horror movie. Nevertheless, Carpenter decided to try to make it creepy by throwing in a masked stalker that really has nothing to do with anything (or does he even really exist?) and other little tricks that don't fit the movie at all.
What I am really surprised about is how the cast got talked into doing this movie. Wes Bentley and Casey Affleck are both pretty good actors, and Luke Wilson isn't that bad, either. I'm not too surprised Eliza Dushku is here, but even she, after her success with Bring it On, should be able to do better (although this film could have been filmed before that one for all I know). The main actress, Melissa Sagemiller, is pretty and moderately talented; even she should have been able to see through this horrid movie before it was made.
Soul Survivor had some intriguing moments, but by about halfway through any suspense is gone and you're just waiting to get to the end to confirm your suspicions... that this is one terribly-made movie.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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