Soul Survivors [DVD] 
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Driving home after a night out at a gothic rave, Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller) and boyfriend Sean (Casey Affleck) are involved in a terrible road accident, which leaves Sean dead and Melissa traumatised. Upon returning to college, Melissa's relationship with her friends Matt (Wes Bentley) and Annabel (Eliza Dushku) becomes more difficult, and she begins to notice strange changes in the world around her. When she eventually goes to speak to campus priest Father Jude (Luke Wilson) about her problems, it puts her on the path to a series of terrifying discoveries - the first of which is that Father Jude died twenty years ago in 1981.
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I won’t dwell too much on plot here for fear of giving something away. Basically, this is a story of four friends: Cassie (played wonderfully by newcomer Melissa Sagemiller), her boyfriend Sean (Casey Affleck), her best friend Annie (Eliza Dushku), and Annie’s boyfriend/Cassie’s former boyfriend Matt (Wes Bentley). The gang goes to a rave on the eve of starting college, where a bunch of weirdoes wearing featureless masks keep popping up. Then Cassie and Sean have a misunderstanding after Matt talks Cassie into giving him a goodbye kiss. On the way home, a car full of masked people swings around the front of the group’s vehicle and causes a hellacious accident. Cassie survives, but she is emotionally traumatized by Sean’s death. Matt and Annie somehow come out unscathed. Cassie goes on to college and begins to lose her grip on reality. She keeps seeing the weirdoes from the club following her, and on several occasions they attempt to kill her. Matt stays to take care of her, but as time goes on Cassie becomes suspicious of her friends, relying on the comfort of Sean (whose ghostly presence appears to her on a number of occasions) and a young priest at the school. There is an element of suspense here, one which builds up as the movie progresses, but I found myself preoccupied trying to figure out just who was actually dead here and what the final twist of the movie would be.
Soul Survivors is basically a psychological thriller. The “killer cut” promises more blood, sex, and terror than the theatrical version; there is some blood, particularly in one scene, but there is basically no sex to be found anywhere here, nor can I say I felt a lump of anything resembling terror building up in my stomach. Suspense-wise, the movie shoots itself in the foot; by the time you get past the surreal marathon of images, flashbacks, and dreams at the end, all you really care about is seeing the movie end. The basic idea of the film is good, the actors are very good indeed, but there’s just something missing in the whole atmosphere.
It’s interesting to note that Eliza Dushku is featured most prominently on the movie case, while the real star, Melissa Sagemiller, is almost lost in the background. Dushku fans will definitely want to see this movie, but her role is basically that of a supporting actress. I liked the commentary by Sagemiller included on the DVD. She explains about half a dozen scenes (there is no movie-length commentary) and offers some insight on the film that I was interested in hearing. The behind-the-scenes featurette was short and interesting but nothing special. The featurette on Harvey Danger basically has nothing to do with the film, but it was certainly unusual and slightly comical. The extra features on the DVD are much appreciated, but they can’t make up for the flaws in the actual movie.
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