Soul Survivors is the story of
a group of friends, Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller), her boyfriend
Sean (Casey Affleck), Cassie's best friend Annabel (Eliza Dushku),
and her boyfriend and Cassie's ex, Matt (Wes Bentley), setting off for their first year at college. On
their first night of freedom they attend a raunchy gothic dance
party at an abandoned cathedral.
A prophetic warning at the entrance reads "All hope abandon
ye who enter here". Little do they know how soon these words
will prove true. With passions enflamed, Cassie and Matt share a
kiss leading to a fight among the friends and they head for home with Cassie behind
the wheel. On the way, they become the victims of a horrible auto accident,
which claims the life of Cassie's boyfriend, Sean.
Haunted by the memory of her lost love and the guilt of his
death, Cassie begins to experience disturbing hallucinations. She
is threatened by almost supernatural stalkers who are trying to
kill her and strange disjointed visions of the past, present, and
Her friends, at first supportive, seem to turn on her. Are they
in cahoots with the stalkers? Are they conspiring against her? Can they be trusted? The only person
she feels she can trust is a young priest, Father Jude (Luke
there is more to Jude than at first it seems. He gives her a
pendant with the image of St. Jude, the patron saint of lost souls, to give her solace in these trying times.
On the verge of insanity, Cassie struggles to discover exactly
what is behind all of the bizarre occurrences that have been plaguing
her and along the way discover the truth behind life and love.
Billed as a psychological thriller with a romantic bend, Soul
Survivors delivers, as long as you are able to forget all the
other movies you've seen. As is so often the case when one movie
becomes popular for a new way of telling a story there are numerous
derivative works created to catch the excitement created by the
popular film. Soul Survivors is just such a derivative. I'm
not saying it's bad, quite the contrary. I enjoyed it very much.
However, it's a story that's been told before in such fine films as
Jacobs Ladder and The Sixth Sense. Of course the are a few differences between this film and the others.
foremost, this movie is aimed squarely at the teen market. This is
to be expected, as producers Neal Moritz and Stokely Chaffin are
best known for their work on the I Know What you Did Last Summer
series of films. This also means you'll find a lot of unnecessary
sexual - hetero and otherwise - subplots, bratty personalities, and
gothic dance scenes. Some examples of this can be seen in the
"Typical Teen Flick Shots" below.
Gothic Dance Club
Matt, the horny ex-boyfriend
Annabel the slutty friend
Sean returns to Cassie in dreams
(Casey Affleck, Melissa Sagemiller)
Cassie confiding in Father Jude
(Melissa Sagemiller, Luke Wilson)
Showdown with friends
about strange incidents
(Eliza Dushku, Wes Bentley, Melissa Sagemiller)
Even so I found the story captivating. As I said before, it isn't
a new story and the characters border on a little annoying to a post-teen
like myself, but the acting was quite good. I felt the actors had a
strong grasp on the material and gave honest portrayals of what the
characters were feeling.
Patrick Raney did an excellent job of set design. The interior
shots of the gothic club were very eerie and the Chicago locations
lent themselves very well to the story without overwhelming it.
Although there are only a few good shocks in the movie, it
didn't suffer. Trying to figure out just exactly how they were
using the now standard twists was quite entertaining. It's also
of great interest to examine the symbolism sprinkled throughout
the film. The character named Raven for example. The raven in
mythology is the trickster, and the creator of worlds. The death
masked stalker for another example. There are quite a few more
but I'll let you point them out for yourselves.
Over all, Soul Survivors is a very rent-able
movie. A well-done film with good acting. You may find the film a little too teen oriented if
you're over 25, but take a chance and give it a watch. I think
you'll be pleased.
The DVD special features include:
- Select scene commentary by Melissa Sagemiller
- Deleted Scenes
- Behind the Deathmask: The Making of Soul Survivors
- Living Dangerously: The Art of Harvey Danger
- Theatrical trailers
- Sneak peek trailer gallery
- Animated storyboards
- Cast and Crew
- Production Notes
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