Spoilers follow ...
- Evil Souls review by NP
There is a pre-credits sequence involving something unpleasant involving evil children. You might well be forgiven for wondering what on earth is going on by the time that opening title sequence rolls. Embrace that wonderment, because during the course of the next 93 minutes, it will become a good friend.
The usual constraints of a low-budget production happen here – some unpolished acting (which improves as the horror sets in) and a musical score that occasionally squashes the dialogue. That is something I readily ignore if the film is engaging. Sadly, writer/directors Maurizio and Roberto del Piccolo do everything they can to ensure ‘Evil Souls’ is not engaging a lot of the time.
There is a hugely over-the-top performance from Peter Cosgrove as Valentine, a devotee of The Marquis De Sade. He dresses in period costume and face mask and indulges in some eccentric Shakespearian dialogue. I end up quite liking him, although I’m not sure I’m supposed to. He specialises in kidnapping single mums, it seems, and ends up with old school friends Jess (Holli Dillon) and Susan (Paola Masciadri).
There are also some foul-mouthed prostitutes (including Valentine’s sister Maddie, played by Lisa Holsappel-Marrs. Lisa also plays Maddie’s mother, giving probably the film’s best performance; she also co-produces this) and a priest (Julian Boote). There are moments of briefly glimpsed gore. The Italian locations look very impressive, and there is a well conveyed mood-scape of bleakness and gloom, which makes the film as good as it is. And yet the story-line is simply impenetrable. Sometimes a confusing narrative can be successfully disorientating inducing an almost hallucinogenic effect on the viewer. Perhaps that is what is being attempted here.
Torture porn, rape, demonic possession that seems to tie-in with historical figures (apart from De Sade, Hitler gets a nod, and others too), revenge, gore and mild nudity: it’s all here. The result is often enjoyable despite (or possibly because of) the induced confusion, and things definitely build up towards the end. It’s just a shame these elements couldn’t have been brought together with a little more cohesion.
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