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Movies
'Lost Souls'

The anti-'Exorcist': Devil doesn't get his due in 'Lost Souls'

Friday, October 13, 2000

By Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Movie Editor

Just in time for the re-release of "The Exorcist" comes yet another movie about demonic possession. "Lost Souls," a movie originally slated for release a year ago, reportedly was delayed by reshoots after poor test screenings.

 
   
íLost Soulsí


Rating: R for violence/terror and some language.

Players: Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin.

Director: Janusz Kaminski.

Web site: www.lostsouls
movie.com

Critic's call: 1 star.

 
 

That just makes it harder to assign blame for this sleeping pill of a movie, which slogs through a plot we've seen half a dozen times in the last year, mostly in bad films like "Bless the Child," "The Ninth Gate," "Stigmata" and "End of Days."

Yes, the antichrist has been busy in Hollywood, and that's just in the executive suites. "Lost Souls" qualifies more as the anti-"Exorcist." It contains no scares, only a few mild jolts, doesn't know the meaning of suspense and ends as impassively as it plays.

The film's moody visuals could be expected -- this is the first directorial effort by Janusz Kaminski, who has won two Academy Awards as a cinematographer ("Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan"). He chose Mauro Fiore to photograph "Lost Souls," which uses primarily muted, almost washed-out colors and cloudy gray exteriors -- the better to anesthetize you with, my dear.

Winona Ryder, whose agent may be possessed (Ryder made this movie and "Autumn in New York"), portrays Maya Larkin, who accompanies Father Lareaux (John Hurt) and others to an exorcism involving a murderer in a psychiatric hospital. She has experience in such matters, having been exorcised herself.

The murderer's writings include a numeric code that Maya cracks. It spells out the name of Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin), a popular true-crime author. It seems Satan has big plans in store for the young man. Can Maya save him in time?

Do we care? Oh, sure, we don't want Old Scratch to win, just on general principles. But Kaminski and screenwriter Pierce Gardner barely develop the characters of Maya and Peter -- if the Devil wants souls, why would he pick these two ciphers?

She wears a constant look of foreboding while he appears bewildered, trying to figure out what's happening.

Pete, we know just how you feel.



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