SEPTEMBER 22, 2008
I hate when I watch a movie like Soul Survivors, which takes place on a college campus, because it makes me think my college experience sucked in comparison. First of all, movie college kids always have their own rooms (or room with their best friend) and the place is huge. I, on the other hand, shared my 10x10 room with a guy who listened to Hello Nasty on a continuous loop and wouldn’t answer the buzzer the night I lost my keys and was stuck outside in the freezing cold for like 2 hrs until someone who lived in a different room came back from a party. Also, movie college kids tend to get into a lot of car crashes, chases around the campus, see lesbian trysts in the library, etc. The most excitement I had in college was probably the time... I lost my keys and got stuck outside for like 2 hrs in the freezing cold.
I also hate when I watch a movie that is as fucking pointless as Soul Survivors.
I have never heard anything good about the film, but I was still pretty curious about it, and even hopeful I might be one of the few who liked it. After all, it is one of two movies Casey Affleck says he leaves off his résumé, and the other is Drowning Mona, which I consider to be one of the most underrated films of all time (look for my review next month, when I dive into October Extras 2: The Non Horror Version!). And, along with Casey, Luke Wilson also appeared in the film. That’s two brothers of cast members from Armageddon for the price of one! But sadly, Casey was right to disown this piece of crap. Not sure how Luke feels about it.
Like Wind Chill, it’s a movie that tries to trick you into thinking you’re watching a Carnival of Souls ripoff, but is actually just pointless and seemingly made up as they went along. We learn at the end that the entire film is just the coma-dream of our lead, but why survivor guilt would lead her to imagining that her best friend has become a lesbian, I have no idea. The traditional end of the film flashback sequence is also intercut with new footage, dream footage, flashbacks within flashbacks... it’s possibly the least helpful “answers montage” in cinematic history. Also, there are two killers in the movie, but I never even came close to understanding what their objective was. All I know is that the entire film was consistently boring, annoying, and incredibly light on horror.
And this is the “killer cut” version, with “More blood, more sex, more terror!” than the theatrical version. According to the IMDb, a lot of the things that were edited back into the film were the scarce horror elements, such as the opening scene, where a girl is walking home alone before being killed by what looks like a metalhead and another guy dressed as the killer from Valentine. And the movie is only 85 minutes, so I can’t imagine how short (and even more boring) the theatrical cut was. I feel bad for the 19 or 20 people who went to see it.
So what’s worth seeing? Well, it’s kind of funny seeing Wes Bentley playing a somewhat normal guy for once. He’s kind of a douchebag, but at least he’s not locking up beautiful women so they will eat leftover turkey with him (oddly, his co-star, Melissa Sagemiller, looks a bit like my beloved Rachel Nichols), or pontificating about the beauty of plastic bags. And Eliza Dushku has a lesbian scene with Angela Featherstone (best known to normal people as Sandler’s ex in Wedding Singer; best known to me as Cusack’s assistant in Con Air), which is kind of hot. It would be hotter if Featherstone looked normal instead of like k.d. lang, but whatever, take what you can get. Also, and this is more of a general observation, I was happy to learn that I’ve seen enough movies shot in Chicago that I can instantly recognize it from a suburban house or two, without needing a title card or a shot of the Sears or whatever.
The DVD comes packed with worthlessness. Right from the start, the DVD offers us 3 different animated menus (this is actually listed as an extra feature). What this means is, you get a different shitty song and a different shitty overlong clip montage that plays before you are able to select anything. Thanks, Artisan. And you’re bankrupt, you say? Then there are some pointless deleted scenes (including an alternate epilogue, which is kind of hilarious because it shows that Dushku and Bentley’s characters are buried together, despite the fact that they were a pretty casual couple who were only together for a few months before they died), a typical featurette about the making of (you can see how Affleck already regrets taking the role in this), and some animated storyboards. There are also a few scenes with Sagemiller commentary, in which she explains some of the things that the movie never bothered to make clear, so it’s actually sort of helpful. Oh, and for no real reason, a piece about Harvey Danger. Since the song in the film (and in turn, the piece itself) isn’t the “Paranoia, paranoia, everybody’s coming to get meeeeeee” one, I have no idea why anyone would care about this. But since I can’t fathom why anyone would care about a goddamn thing on this disc, I’m sure there is an audience for it somewhere.
This movie was written and directed by Steve Carpenter, who made one of the few slashers I ever got so bored by that I just shut it off and never finished (Dorm that Dripped Blood, which, even though I wasn’t aware it was the same guy, I tried to watch right around the time Soul Survivors was stinking up empty theaters). But if I made it all the way to the end of this rubbish, I’m sure I can finish that one someday.
I should note that I can keep my rental for 1.99. That’s about 2.08 more than it’s worth.
What say you?