2000, R, 97 min. Directed by Janusz Kaminski. Starring Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin, Philip Baker Hall, Elias Koteas, Sarah Wynter, John Beasley, Victor Slezak, John Diehl, John Hurt.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 20, 2000
The directorial debut of longtime Spielberg cinematographer and two-time Oscar winner (for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan) Kaminski is a muddy, senseless mess. There's a story here, somewhere, there's got to be, but I'll be damned if I can find it. Lost Souls is nominally concerned with the efforts of a crack team of Catholic exorcists -- led by a bedridden Hurt and feisty, hollow-eyed pal Ryder -- to defeat Satan before he can take over the body of New York true-crime writer Peter Kelson (Chaplin) on his 33rd birthday. But rarely have I seen a film expend so much energetic imagery in the service of so barely serviceable a storyline. Characters -- seemingly important ones -- wander in and out of frame and then vanish altogether. Have they been swallowed up whole by the dark and hoary ancient evil that palpably lurks around every fog-shrouded corner? Or did the editing just get out of hand? I suspect the latter. Not bad enough to be fun nor clever enough to be interesting, it's instead a shamelessly dull, difficult-to-grasp foray into not the dark but the dim.