Another Soul will remind viewers of other movies. It’s an echo of supernatural horror stories told before featuring demons, possessions, conflicted parents, and exorcisms. But, Another Soul is also a shoestring effort working with limited resources that no one would truly want to slam because the cast and crew are simply “doing their best”. This, perhaps, could’ve acted as an excuse to criticize Paul Chau’s film on a curve, but I’m afraid the Paranormal Activity franchise has debunked that notion.
Even outside of Oren Peli’s lucrative horror series, filmmakers have proven to draw big scares with atmospheric creepiness and sparse visuals. Chau actually achieves this briefly in Another Soul during a few nighttime scenes where shadows of a spastic, grotesque creature are projected on a wall in a bedroom. However, just as some mainstream horrors tend to do, Chau reveals the mystery too early in the film, and the results are overambitious and less than eerie. Matters get worse when Chau’s screenwriting devolves the generic premise with tacky demon lore and characters with withering intelligence.
The latter matches up with tired performances given by Wyatt Kuether, Brianne Wigeland, and Sarah Smithton. Kuether and Wigeland play the parents of Smithton’s Megan, a teenager approaching her 18th birthday who is occasionally overtaken by supernatural forces. Smithton spaces out a lot, which would prove to be unsettling in a movie where the audience gets to know Megan more. Smithton does outshine her older co-stars though. Kuether and Wigeland have zero chemistry and their fear towards their family crisis is fairly indifferent. Their characters are experiencing emotional distance with each other but, again, that isn’t established well enough for the audience beforehand.
2012’s Sinister is the better version of this story. It too features a family who unknowingly move into a cursed conundrum, and square off against a malicious demon with a silly name (Sinister has Bughuul, Another Soul has Abyzou). Sinister may follow a formula, but it’s effective by how it psychologically draws dread out of its audience – it got under our skin. Unlike Sinister, Another Soul has no edge to it or any special qualities. It just wants to scream “boo!” and run away.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie