Main cast: Casey Affleck (Sean), Wes Bentley (Matt), Eliza Dushku (Annabel), Melissa Sagemiller (Casey), Angela Featherstone (Raver), and Luke Wilson (Father Jude)
Director: Steve Carpenter
Much-delayed Soul Survivors finally gets its theatrical release. Whoopee. I can see why it has been gathering dust in the studio basement for so long. Even Eliza Dushku’s magnetic presence can’t save this dull, tedious movie.
It concerns four friends. Sean and Matt are about to go off to college and they are going for a last night out (for a while) with their gals Casey (the good one) and Annabel (the wild one, which we know because rock music comes on when the camera focuses on a smoking Eliza Dushku for the first time). The quartet though isn’t as happy and sunshiney as it seems. Matt once dated Casey and he still has feelings for her, but Casey and Sean only have eyes for each other.
At a wild party, Sean sees Casey and Matt kiss (“It’s just a goodbye kiss…”) and Casey wants to explain things. Before she can do that, however, their car crashes badly and Sean dies. Casey is traumatized, but worse, she finds herself being stalked by two psychos from the wild party. What is going on here? Even the good Father Jude can’t offer answers.
Is Annabel evil? Is Matt evil? Are they both evil and conspiring to murder Casey? What is going on here?
Be aware that the story can get very confusing and incoherent, but trust me, all is explained decently towards the end (I say “decently”, not “perfectly”). Let’s just say this is a psychological thriller as compared to a mere slash/murder horror flick. But the trouble lies in the main cast.
Can Casey Affleck get any more ineffectual? He radiates charisma and sex appeal of a kebab. If Wes Bentley gets any more stiff (his acting, people, his acting) and wooden, our psychic love affair is so over, I tell you. The main anchor of the movie, Melissa Sagemiller, screams and looks terrified at the right cues, but the inept script doesn’t give her much meaty acting to work on.
Only Eliza Dushku seems to be having the time of her life as the pill-popping bisexual party-hopper. Yes, she’s reprising her role as Faith in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer all over again, but really, that young lady just rocks. She has subversively enjoyable sexual chemistry with everybody, even with Melissa Sagemiller (check out their shower scene).
But really, wooden acting and tedious teen angst make Soul Survivors a dull chore of a movie with no decent payoff in the end. The movie folks could do better by having Eliza Dushku dancing around three potted plants. You know, I think Eliza and the Potted Plants will actually be worth the ticket price more than this annoying headache of a movie.