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Soul Survivors (2001)

DVD Cover (Artisan)
Genres:
Horror, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Thriller, Teen Horror, Thriller
Director:
Stephen Carpenter Stephen Carpenter
Starring:
Melissa Sagemiller Melissa Sagemiller
Wes Bentley Wes Bentley
Casey Affleck Casey Affleck
Eliza Dushku Eliza Dushku
Angela Featherstone Angela Featherstone

2.2 / 10 - 10 votes

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Review by Chad
Added: March 28, 2005
This entry into the teen slasher (or thriller, as the director calls it) starts things off by having an unknown lady walking down the street, where she is confronted by two nameless men who are credited as Hideous Dancer (Ken Moreno) and Deathmask (Carl Paoli). The men hold the lady down and slice her wrist open, she bleeds to death, and we then cut on over to the stars of the movie, a move which renders this opening scene completely null and void.

Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller) is going off to college, and accompanying her are is her boyfriend Sean (Casey Affleck), ex-boyfriend Matt (Wes Bentley), and his girlfriend Annabel (Eliza Dushku, who is not the star of this movie, contrary to all of the publicity surrounding this film). After our teen heroes arrive at the college, we're treated to an emotional moment between Cassie and Sean... seems as though Sean isn't going to her college after all, and they're going to be split up for a while. This tear-jerker of a scene is quickly brought to an end when Annabel suggests that they all head over to this, like, totally freaky goth party thing where like, no college kids are allowed, teehee. One thing leads to another at the party, and Cassie ends up slipping Matt some tongue in the car... a move which her boyfriend Sean witnesses. Cassie gets pissed off at Sean because he's pouting like a little bitch over this whole scene, takes her eyes off the road, and winds up getting into an automobile accident.

Sean dies in the accident while the other three live, Cassie feels like, totally down about the whole thing, y'know, and then some like, totally weird stuff starts to happen to her. She starts to see Sean's ghost talking to her, telling her that she's in danger and needs to leave this college or she'll wind up dead, to which Cassie pushes him away and runs off. I don't know about you, the reader, but if the ghost of my deceased significant other showed up and told me I was in danger, I think I'd listen to it rather than push it away and run off pouting. It also seems as though "Hideous Dancer" and "Deathmask" want to murder poor Cassie, and Annabel is turning lesbian and constantly making out with club-goer Raven (Angela Featherstone). Everything is like, so totally backwards and stuff, so Cassie turns to Father Jude (Luke Wilson), a young priest who appears to have some answers.

The DVD packaging refers to this version of the film as "The Killer Cut - The Version You Weren't Allowed To See On The Big Screen!" With that in mind, I expected to at least witness some decent bloodshed, some gratuitous nudity, or something that would warrant that tag line. What we wind up with is about a thimble-full amount of blood, a split-second shot of Angela Featherstone's breasts, and a much longer shot of male ass... nothing more, nothing less. Now, I realize that Hollywood is getting strict about what gets a theatrical run due to wanting all of the teens in the theaters, but I was completely unaware that a glimpse of female breasts was now forbidden from the big screen. Thank you, Soul Survivors, for bringing me up to speed on this issue.

So, we've established that this hardcore banned version of the film is severely lacking in the gore and T&A department. A movie can be good and have none of the above, so with all of my thoughts on deceptive marketing practices aside, it wouldn't really matter too much as long as the film itself is entertaining. Sadly, that's not the case either, as this is one of the biggest fuck-ups to make its way into a theatrical run this century. The basic premise of the film is decent enough, although it has been done to death and done much better more than enough times to count. The problem with this particular telling of the tale is, well, everything else.

For starters, the acting portrayed here by this group of fresh-faced teens is abysmal even by today's teen slasher standards. Jennifer Love Hewitt, standing in the street and screaming "What are you waiting for?!" in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" was an award-winning piece of cinematic history compared to everything that this cast spews out. Emotionless, wooden acting is the norm here, with the exception of the many, many (many) scenes in which Cassie runs for her life from the villains, from her boyfriend, from her shower, and from just about anything that pops on screen. During these scenes, we're treated to a shrill scream, some crying, and then it's back to the emotionless character portrayal. I could have even dealt with this had the script been just a bit better, but instead, we hear things such as "I'd die for you... but I don't wanna die!" constantly (and that was in the tear-soaked finale... the normal scenes that pad out the film are far worse).

That's not bad enough? How about this... Cassie wakes up naked in her bed (don't get too excited, we don't see anything here). A man is laying in bed with her, asleep and also naked. He wakes up and goes to the bathroom, at which point, Cassie looks at the night-stand and sees an open condom package. When the male returns, Cassie asks him (and I quote) "Did we sleep together?" It might be funny, in a sad sort of way, had these not been major parts of the movie that were played out in all seriousness.

Let's see here - T&A? This movie failed to entertain in this department. Gore? Failed. Acting? Failed. Storyline? I hate to be repetitive, but this was a failure as well. Remember when you, the reader, first watched The Sixth Sense, and upon seeing the ending, your thoughts were "So that explains (scene) and (scene)... makes sense now!" Director Stephen Carpenter tries to get that effect in this movie as well, but he tries much too hard. Nearly every scene after the accident makes zero sense upon watching it, and it's not until the end of the movie that anything makes any type of sense whatsoever. Then, after the ending is revealed, about twenty percent of what you've just witnessed throughout the eighty minute running time makes sense... the rest is left unexplained and forgotten about. From what I've read, the ending that is presented on this DVD is different from what was shown theatrically, so maybe this version is the worse of the two... but judging by the rest of the film, I sort of doubt it.

Bottom line - avoid like the plague. You can pick this up used on eBay for a buck, and for good reason... anyone foolish enough to purchase this immediately wants it out of their living quarters. I wasn't even the one who dropped the dollar on this title, and I still feel ripped off. 0/10.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 10/07/2005, 08:33 PM
Just compiled my list of the 50 Worst Films Ever Made. This one made #8. Congrats. 0/10. Worthless.
AttnDefDis #2: AttnDefDis - added 02/06/2009, 02:16 PM
I love this review. Especially this part (it cracked me up):

"This tear-jerker of a scene is quickly brought to an end when Annabel suggests that they all head over to this, like, totally freaky goth party thing where like, no college kids are allowed, teehee."

I've never seen the directors cut version, but I have seen the standard several times I'm sorry to say. Actually, I've re-purchased the VHS three times. Tragic I know, but I keep running into these Eliza Dushku fans (I'm one too) and I feel I have to show them this joke of a movie.

I just can't seem to bring myself to give this one a 0. It had so much potential what with Wes, Casey, Eliza and Luke. I love them all, but it truly makes no sense. I doubt the director could even explain this one. It's right up there with "I Know Who Killed Me."
Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added 07/17/2010, 03:34 PM
Eliza Dushku is hot, but she can pull of a really shitty performance in certain movies and shows. 1/10
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