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Desperate Souls

Directed by Chad Archibald, Philip Carrer

Written by Chad Archibald, Philip Carrer

Starring Ryan Barrett, Pete Soltesz, Matt Kowall, Breanne TeBoekhorst

Produced by Chad Archibald, Philip Carrer, Adam Koebel

Rated R

90 minutes

**

Time for a good old fashioned study in duality, folks. Duality is the basic principle that says two distinctly different traits can be in the same body. “Desperate Souls,” a little something new from Lions Gate, is an excellent description of that. You’ll be seeing excellent examples of duality, explaining how a film can simultaneously kick ass and suck balls.

Often within seconds of each other.

So what we have here is an ancient druid book that somehow manages to fall into the hands of orphans. That by itself doesn’t make a whole lot of what could be called sense, but even worse, somehow the orphans are going to turn the book’s capabilities against a bunch of teenagers out on a camping trip.

Which, I confess, doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a whole lot of fun. The evil, slightly older version of the Little Rascals are going to find the Necronomicon and use it against Yet Another Party of Camping Teenagers, Most of Whom Will Be Dead Before The Closing Credits Roll?

Not exactly a good movie bell-ringer.

This is before the twists kick in.

Trust me, there will be twists. The movie has scarcely begun and already there are plot twists.

And yet, somehow, despite all rational logic and good sense, the first two minutes should get and hold your attention. The first two minutes are done as news footage of what was found after the fact, making the whole rest of the movie almost a flashback.

Then, about fifteen minutes in, we get treated to some really lousy acting. Watch the exchange between Nick, former orphan turned Grizzly Adams, and one of our Camping Teens and see if you don’t laugh yourself stupid at these two.

But, there will also be a lot of odd, disjointed footage that will be both scary and confusing by lengths. And more than a little footage of people screaming in the dark, much in the same way “The Blair Witch Project” did the same thing.

Which is the pretty odd thing about “Desperate Souls”—it’s feast or famine, and often within minutes of each other. Feast for this ten minutes, famine for this two, feast for this three, famine for this twenty. It all sort of balances out, but I can’t help but be a little saddened by the fact that a movie that can generate such originality in one breath would be so utterly banal in the very next.

“Desperate Souls” is brilliant. “Desperate Souls” is derivative. It’s golden. It’s garbage. It’s the single best lousy movie I’ve seen in a long time.

The ending features plot elements so incredibly convenient that they’re downright insulting. Not to mention a terribly confusing yet surprisingly thrilling psuedo-steel-cage match to wrap things up. Plus there’s a nifty little twist ending that comes full-circle with the beginning very nicely.

The special features include audio options, Spanish subtitles, and trailers for “High Tension,” “Undead,” “Bloody Mallory,” “A Killer Upstairs,” and “Waiting.”

All in all, “Desperate Souls” wavers wildly between brilliance and awfulness. In one breath, it will be purely original—storytelling at its most gifted. But in the next breath, it will do something so utterly asinine that any thinking person would lose all respect for it. It should be worth at least a rental, more if you’re the forgiving type.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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