DEAD SOULS (2012)
Directed by Colin Theys
For the first half of the movie, Dead Souls plays out much like a haunted house flick. We get to known the character of Johnny Petrie and explore the house with him for the first time in the years since the brutal murders. As with any house with a violent, tragic history, the evil appears to linger on long after the events take place, tarnishing a property with the savage crimes committed within. Like The Amityville Horror, you sit there, fixated on the screen, eagerly expecting creepy jump-scares, bumps in the night and shadows lurking at every corner. Dead Souls does not disappoint in this department. It uses a slow, but well timed, pace to set the scene, adding the jumps and scares at just the right moments. The house becomes as much of a character in the film as Johnny.
What does terrify is the opening 5 minutes. After purposely ignoring the film synopsis, I was deeply disturbed by the ruthless and psychotic opener, resulting with the horror geek in me screaming with pure joy. You would never have guessed from the neutral first scene of a lullaby song being sang that dark, sinister and totally unnerving events were about to transpire. It’s hard to live up to expectations when you’ve set the bar so early on in the film. Dead Souls subsequently never hits these blood-soaked high notes again in the movie, but instead it takes you down an alternative horrorific route, one that isn’t as scary visually but still manages to crawl under your skin.
There’s a mixed bag of performances in Dead Souls, but thankfully the lead, Jesse James, along with Magda Apanowicz, Jaiden Kaine and the little of Bill Moseley we do see, are enough to carry the movie, with the main chunk of the work on the shoulders of James and Apanowicz. J.H. Torrance Downes makes an excellent villain as the warped patriarch, Benjamin Conroy, who still manages to creep out the audience long after he’s deceased.
Dead Souls is a tense, disturbing twist on the supernatural thriller and whilst it may not pay off as well as it could, it’s definitely a creepy, insidious tale that will give you the chills.