Posted: 10/16/00

Lost Souls
by Hank Yuloff

Pity poor lost soul Winona Ryder trying to showcase her considerable talents in a stinker like this.

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As this web sites' resident Winonaphobe, when Lost Souls was released, it fell to me to write yet another gushing edifice to the actress who won my heart in Beetlejuice.

I should have rented Age of Innocence.

I'll put it right up front: The last 15 minutes of this movie made the first 82 minutes another exercise in "What Were They Thinking," whereby some usually rational movie producers said "yeah, yeah" to a project and then watched it go in the tank. This was a really good movie until the end. Then I was left with that horrible feeling you get on Christmas morning when all you get was socks and underwear. All that buildup for this?!?!

Lost Souls is the story of an author of crime novels (Peter Kendell played by Dylan McDermott look-alike Ben Chaplin) who's body is about to be transformed into the Devil on Earth. Winona Ryder is the last person in the world who knows it's about to happen and cares enough to fight Satan's minions for possession of the home turf.

Stop me if you've heard this one, but isn't that The Omen? And about 20 other movies that want to play on our fear of things that go bump in the night?

Kendell slowly comes around to believing he IS about to be replaced - finding a huge pentagram hidden near your bed tends to show the proof is in the pudding - and begs Ryder to help him. Help him what?

First time writers Pierce Gardner and Betsy Stahl had a really good premise. It just seems that Hollywood formulas took their movie and made it suck. I wish I could know if the ending was their fault or not. The tag line for this movie (that I waited MONTHS to see) was Deliver Us From Evil. I wish I had been delivered from this ending.

I was able to go along with this whole movie, and really enjoy seeking new life in old plot complications because of Janusz Kaminski, the movies' first time director. Make no mistake, if I were nominating for that Oscar category, this one could be a winner. He uses a very large grained technical film that eliminates most of the shading, giving you a very stark, surreal feeling of light and dark: good and evil. This movie is almost worth watching without sound for the artistic value. If you have ever thought of photography as your hobby, when Lost Souls comes to cable, I suggest you do that very thing. This is a beautiful, beautiful film. But what else would I expect from the man who was in charge of cinematography for Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. You will see the similarities.

As for Ryder - allow me to gush... her performance was nothing less than brilliant. She plays open-eyed and scared amazingly well. If you love her work, go see Lost Souls.

Other than that, rent Girl, Interrupted.

Hank Yuloff is an entertainment industry entrepreneur living in Hollywood. Hank sez: "My casting couch is always available."

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