unexpected bequest is always a dramatically mixed blessing in horror
films. Take Johnny Petrie, for
instance. On his eighteenth birthday, he
learns he is adopted and has inherited the farmhouse where his birth father
killed the rest of his original family. Returning
to claim his legacy, Petrie will be forced to deal with some supernatural
family business in Colin Theys’ Dead Souls (trailer
Chiller original film based on the novel by Michael Laimo, which premieres this
dark and stormy night, the infant Petrie’s preacher father up and killed his
family in a bizarre ritual, but not before his big brother safely hid him
away. Eighteen years later, give or
take, Petrie is living in New York with his super-Christian, hyper-protective,
hypochondriac aunt, whom he believes to be his real mother. Oh, but not so, as he learns from the lawyer
handling his parents’ estate, upon reaching his majority. When his presumed mother is once again admitted
to the hospital, Petrie is able to sneak up north to take possession.
once the prodigal son arrives, a pack of locals tries to strong-arm him back to
the City. His estate attorney is also
eager to facilitate a lucrative potential sale ASAP and be rid of him, but Petrie
wants to look around, soaking up his roots.
Before long, he comes across Emma, a squatter, which is exciting for
him, because she’s a girl.
Unfortunately, they are not alone.
The spookiness starts coming fast and furious, possibly involving the
sacramental killing of his family. It
seems the ritual was not completed. Our
first clue would be the fact that Petrie is still alive.
has a good grasp on the three classical unities as they apply to horror movies. The creaky old barn and farmhouse are quite
ominous looking (with credit also due to Paul Pribble and Jeanette Drake’s
design teams), giving the film a genuine sense of place. Indeed, Souls
is surprisingly distinctive visually, but the story itself is rather workaday
genre stuff. The evil psychotic
clergyman is also a decidedly tired cliché, though one could argue his cult
does not really qualify as Christian, per se.
the plus side of the ledger, the cast-members are all professional grade. Jesse James is sufficiently moody and
confused as Petrie, but horror fans will be more interested in the supporting
cast, particularly cult favorite Bill Moseley (of Devil’s Rejects and House of
1,000 Corpses infamy), who lends grizzled credibility to the third act as
former Sheriff Depford. Jaiden Kaine
also brings some energy to the proceedings as Andrew Judson, the dodgy lawyer
(is there any other kind?).
The mechanics of Souls are fairly strong and it boasts some colorful, fan-pleasing
supporting turns. There are eerie
moments, particularly by television standards, but it always clear what general
direction it is headed. For horrors fans
who value atmosphere over story, Dead
Souls should still work well enough.
It airs this Friday night (10/12) on Chiller TV.
Labels: Bill Moseley, Chiller TV, Horror Movies