Lost Souls

By Mark Ramsey | 2000/10/14

The Devilish yarn Lost Souls was reportedly dusted off the New Line shelf after two years in the can. Was its fetid stench a sign of Satanic influence or just the stale air billowing after New Line head Mike De Luca following a lunch heavy with greens?

Here’s a hint: Some movies are released, others plummet into theaters like water balloons off a skyscraper. Heads up, moviegoers!


Nowadays, it seems, Winona Ryder is getting career advice from the lunch counter at Wendys. And this year, the special order is “frosty.”

Here’s the story:

Winona once had been possessed by Johnny Depp’s demon seed and a Priest was called in to exorcise her, but at the eleventh hour Lucifer was recruited as VP Reality Programming at CBS and the Priest had to settle for casting the vintner out of Francis Ford Coppola. “Still a work in progress,” said the Priest, “but exuberantly spicy and dry with a hint of oak and a note of butter.”

The Devil, you see, is about to assume human form. And poor Ben Chaplin is the regular guy who is destined to be transformed into the anti-Christ. An anti-Christ who, Winona whispers, is “the door to eternal suffering in this world.” And I thought I just entered that door to this theater!

Ben is an author who doesn’t believe in “Evil with a capital ‘E’” – just “evil which puts bread on the table.” Possession is just a superstitious name for what Ben calls “malignant narcissism” and what you and I might call “Minnie Driver Syndrome.”

Winona would like to save Ben, but he has been sanctified by a pentacle and we all know how painful that can be. Ben will be transformed into the Deacon of Darkness at the exact moment of his birth on his 33rd birthday – “that’s tomorrow!” says Ben as jaws throughout the theater drop in a communal expression of “No, you’re kidding! What are the odds!”


Naturally, the Devil picks New York as the locale for his return to Earth. He’s planning to wave a sign outside the Today Show’s window: “Hi Damned Minions!” That’s followed by a 1pm lunch with Harvey and Bob Weinstein to ink that development deal with Dimension.

Lost Souls is directed by Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. So much for clout. Entertainment Weekly reports that Spielberg, upon seeing this stinker, phoned the director and exclaimed “Who’s your daddy, Janusz, who’s your daddy?!”

The razmatazz of contemporary digital effects cluttering up the otherwise dull story and drab look of Lost Souls makes me glad they didn’t make The Exorcist within the last twenty years. Hey, if overflowing toilets and crumbling walls frighten you, then stay out of Penn station!

The Devil’s in the details, they say, and these details suck.

Photos Copyright ©2000 New Line Cinema


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