A good and memorable movie does something new and original. It may have a plot the audience has seen a dozen times, but it also has at least one extra touch that distinguishes it from the rest.
Like many of the movies out this past summer, “Soul Survivors” lacks any originality (it is a complete rip off of another excellent movie, which will not be named for fear of giving away the ending), and will be all too easy to forget.
The night before Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller), Sean (Casey Affleck), Matt (Wes Bentley) and Annabel (Eliza Dushku) are about to part ways for their first year of college, they decide to have one last night of fun.
They find themselves at a rave in an old abandoned church outside of town. Between the requisite rainstorm, drinking and sexual tension between Matt and Sean (who both love Cassie,) the four get into a major car crash on their way home. Sean, Cassie”s boyfriend, is killed.
After the accident, Cassie heads back to school and tries to cope with her grief, which is a lot harder when she keeps seeing Sean on campus. Not only that, but she also has random delusions.
She has some nasty nightmares that feel far too real in which she is constantly being chased by scary masked men she saw at the rave the night of the accident. That, in a sense, is what “Soul Survivors” is all about.
The movie itself has some pretty creepy moments, but overall, it doesn”t have enough content. The entire film is built around the ending, which would be OK if the movie did enough explaining beforehand, but it doesn”t. “Soul Survivors” substitutes confusion and busyness for plot, taking quantity over quality in a big way.
Confusion, even if it is explained in the end, doesn”t make for a good movie all by itself. It is OK for a movie to trick the audience and make them feel as though they know what”s going on, as in “The Sixth Sense,” but it is not okay for a movie to never let the audience believe they know what is happening. No amount of explaining in the end will make up for two hours of mass confusion.
“Soul Survivors” was probably put together way too fast, which wouldn”t be surprising considering that so many movies these days are, especially horror. It feels very rushed, and there are too many tiny flaws that could have easily been avoided had there been any effort made at detail.
For example, Cassie has this cut on the side of her head that randomly appears and disappears throughout the movie. There is one scene where she goes to bed one night without the cut and wakes up the next morning with the cut. Mistakes like that simply make a movie look sloppy.
Even the acting was hackneyed and insipid. It is a red flag, as far as horror movies go, when the supporting roles are bigger names than the lead actress herself.
Overall, it seems as if “Soul Survivors” was attempting to be something bigger than an average horror film. In the end though, it turned out to be simply a mass conglomerate of clichd suspense films with no originality of its own.