ndsu spectrum: movie review
‘Lost Souls’ offers a beautifully bleak spin on reality
By JOHN HANSEN
Oct. 27, 2000
The basic elements of “Lost Souls”—exorcisms, God and the Devil, possession, the end of the world, devout Christians versus atheists—have been used in many films, but they’ve never been put together quite like this before.
Director Janusz Kaminski has crafted a deeply personal Good vs. Evil battle played out through two innocents thrown into a cruel armageddon scenario; the story plays out against a beautifully bleak and creepy New York City backdrop.
Mya Larkin (Winona Ryder) has deciphered a satanic code that says Peter Kendell (Ben Chaplin) will be the vessel for the antichrist. Mya is a fragile, tortured soul who was possessed when she was younger; since then, she has witnessed plenty of exorcisms and knows that Evil is real. Peter is an athiest who believes everyone is responsible for their own actions—good and evil reside in all of us, but there’s no “Evil with a capital E” out there. Adding weight to the film are John Hurt as a priest, Philip Baker Hall as Peter’s uncle and Elias Koteas as a clergyman with a more take-charge approach than Mya.
Kaminski made his mark as a cinematographer on many Steven Spielberg films, so its no surprise that “Lost Souls” is a showcase of visuals. Cinematographer Mauro Fiore shoots the film in luscious, muted grays and greens. Meanwhile, Jan A.P. Kaczmerek’s pervasive gets under your skin and has the ability to shock with sudden bursts of noise.
As basic as the story may seem, there are some pretty daring things being tried here. As you watch the film, you feel like there is only one possible outcome, yet it’s shocking that the writers—Pierce Gardner and Betsy Stahl–would have the guts to go through with such an ending.
Such timeless questions as “Are God and the Devil real?” can’t really be examined as you’re watching the film, because it sucks you in to its reality. But you have to wonder: what kind of world do these people live in, where death is the only escape, good people’s strength is defined by their ability to kill if necessary, and even victory is tinged with defeat?
Title: “Lost Souls”
Starring: Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin, John Hurt, Elias Koteas, Philip Baker Hall
Written by: Pierce Gardner and Betsy Stahl
Director: Janusz Kaminski