Hopefully the last in a line of man vs. devil movies let loose by Y2K hysteria coupled with the success of The Sixth Sense (which wisely steered clear of religious metaphors altogether), Lost Souls actually ranks below End of Days and just about ties the pitiful Bless the Child for sheer badness.
The story slowly (and I mean slowly) unfolds, revealing the following plotline. Winona Ryder's Maya is the survivor of a demonic possession during childhood, and she was one of the lucky ones that had Satan exorcised right out of her body. Through some strange pact with renegade clergyman Father Lareaux (John Hurt, beneath his station in this junk), she is a kind of part-time assistant on other exorcisms when they arise in the greater New York metropolitan area, a city in which, according to Lost Souls, it is always raining.
Through some clever codebreaking during one such exorcism, Maya stumbles upon the fact that the antichrist will rise up in a matter of days to inhabit the body of writer Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin of The Truth About Cats and Dogs). And although Maya and her exorcist crew have no idea how to stop it, they go out of their way to scare the pants off of Peter, telling him it's pretty much inevitable that he's going to turn into the devil.
What follows is mostly drawn-out self-discovery as Peter wrestles with his nonexistent faith, while Maya is haunted by demons -- real and imaginary -- that lead us to believe that possession by the devil isn't just something you get rid of with a shot of penicillin. It's something that stays with you for life!
And that's about the long and short of it. The moody lighting and underexposed camerawork lead me to believe Lost Souls once aspired to be great art, but it's ultimately another plot-to-foil-Satan movie with few thrills aside from Maya's stylish hallucinations. Simply put, the story is utter nonsense. Frankly, if the devil is stupid enough to choose some lowly writer to be the vessel for earthly destruction, well, he deserves what's coming to him.
If you're determined enough to see Lost Souls, I challenge you to stay awake. But if Friday the 13th really has you itching to see a devil movie, then I urge you, just go see the re-release of The Exorcist.
Ryder re-evaluates her career.
Run time: 97 mins
In Theaters: Friday 13th October 2000
Box Office USA: $16.4M
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 7%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 84
IMDB: 4.8 / 10
Director: Janusz Kaminski
Producer: Meg Ryan, Nina R. Sadowsky
Screenwriter: Pierce Gardner
Starring: Winona Ryder as Maya Larkin, Ben Chaplin as Peter Kelson, Sarah Wynter as Claire Van Owen, Philip Baker Hall as Father James, John Hurt as Father Lareaux, Elias Koteas as John Townsend, John Diehl as Henry Birdson, Alfre Woodard as Dr. Allen, Victor Slezak as Father Thomas
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