A little bit late for the new millennium, but here comes another in the series we might call The Devil As Urban Legend - Fallen, Stigmata, End Of Days, Bless The Child. Catholic priests must be putting in a lot of overtime with all this theological celluloid running amok.
Which leads one to ask why it's always the Catholics doing frontline duty. Why doesn't the cinematic Satan ever go after the Methodists or the Amish, or some Pentecostal sect in Incest, Tennessee?
Anyway, this time the Devil's after Ben Chaplin (The Truth About Cats And Dogs), a writer of best-selling true-crime books who lives in the most remarkably grey New York City in recent cinematic memory. You can tell that director Janusz Kaminski, best known either as Spielberg's Academy Award-winning cinematographer or as Holly Hunter's husband, is from eastern Europe. He manages to make New York look about as enticing as Berlin in winter.
Working on the side of the good guys is Winona Ryder, an adult survivor of adolescent Satanic possession (next on Jerry Springer!) who hangs out with Father John Hurt and helps him with exorcisms while holding down a job teaching French at a religious elementary school.
Enjoyable exercise I know what you're thinking. Who writes this stuff?
Lost Souls is a bloated B-movie, and it's almost impossible to argue for it as a good film, but it is enjoyable, in its way, as an exercise in directorial style. It's very much a cinematographer's film, and one suspects that Kaminski's doing some of the stuff we see here simply because more cautious directors wouldn't let him do things like foreground blinding light sources, shoot things through ripply glass and change lenses in the middle of a scene.
It's also fun to see Ryder, one of the few under-30 actors with a relatively spotless filmography, do something that endeavours to live up to the sheer trashiness of Coppola's Dracula of a few years back, though without the sex or a performance as outre as Gary Oldman's in that film.