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SOUL SURVIVORS

SYNOPSIS:
There is a sense of unease among the two couples of the story, even though they’re good friends. Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller) and Sean (Casey Affleck) are smitten with each other, though when he says he loves her, she finds it difficult to respond with the same words – perhaps because he is about to abandon her (if only temporarily) for Harvard. Matt (Wes Bentley) and Annabel’s (Eliza Dushku) relationship seems equally intense, though perhaps more lustful than romantic. It is complicated by the fact that Matt still carries a flame for Cassie, who is his ex. When a car accident leads to tragedy, their relationships become more complicated still, with implications and menace that may or may not be from beyond the grave.

Review by Brad Green:
‘Abandon all hope,’ screams the sign. It’s scrawled in blood red, and we only catch a glimpse at the entrance to the Goth rave from which stems all the madness. It’s a rather informal do: a black heaving morass of black-clad, self-professed freaks throbbing as one to the death metal beat. You know, the sort of soiree that would have really got Dante’s rocks off. Unfortunately, the film is much better at referencing fabulous horrors than delivering them. When our heroine sits a mid-term, the first question requires comment on "there are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy". My comment would be that even the sceptical Horatio could have dreamt up this script in a cat nap. It’s a pastiche of supernatural clichés overlaid with a lame attempt at Turn Of The Screw ambiguity. Are the demons real or merely inside her head? The answer is that we really don’t care. The only scary thing is the blight that this shocker of a shocker will leave on the collective CVs of a rather talented young cast. Wes Bentley is an emerging talent with an interesting trade mark. In American Beauty his intense gaze masked a complex psychology, and here he uses the same focused stare to hide a character vacuum. Eliza Dushku is superbly sultry, although she seems destined to play the moody, brunette counterpart to frothy blonde leads. The whole film is a tease of unfulfilled thrills and titillation, like when the two femme protagonists take a shower together – only to remain fully clothed. There is a moment, when Cassie starts turning for help to a priest who supposedly died 20 years before, that I thought my attention might be brought back from the dead; but no, things just get sillier and sillier until even the silliness is overwhelmed by the crushing banality of the denouement. I really should have heeded that sign.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

SOUL SURVIVORS (M)
(US)

CAST: Melissa Sagemiller, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Eliza Dushku

DIRECTOR: Stephen Carpenter

PRODUCER: Stokely Chaffin, Neal H. Moritz

SCRIPT: Stephen Carpenter

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Fred Murphy

EDITOR: Janice Hampton, Todd C. Ramsay

PRODUCTION DESIGN:

MUSIC: Daniel Licht

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 13, 2001 (Sydney only)







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