One had little expectation of Lost Souls. The films release had been announced but delayed for over a year. The film was produced by Meg Ryan and starred Winona Ryder, neither of whom seem natural candidates for the horror genre. When Lost Souls did open, it was to surprisingly negative reviews. Mindedly, it did not have a terribly inspiring promo campaign Evil Will Possess You. Contrarily though, Lost Souls emerged as a quite reasonable film.
Lost Souls was the directorial debut of Janusz Kaminski, previously a cinematographer for Steven Spielberg on all of his films since Schindlers List (1993), winning Academy Awards for his work on both Schindler and Saving Private Ryan (1998). The plot sits just between the hokey and interesting in another directors hands, Lost Souls could have been a pedestrian vehicle but Janusz Kaminski makes it work with great conviction. Kaminski shoots with a cinematographers eye the film comes with all the light sources over-exposed and the colour bleached out of the frame to give it a hauntingly washed-out almost monochrome luminescence. Kaminskis scares are subtly evoked Ben Chaplin unable to hear anything when he plays the tape on his stereo while his neighbour is being deafened; John Diehls appearances to Winona Ryder holding a knife and stalking her around a house or the moment Diehl opens his eyes from the coma; the toppling of a statue of Christ when Ben Chaplin enters a church to beg divine help.
Lost Souls is worth comparing to both End of Days and Bless the Child, its closest cousins among the modern Exorcist/Omen revivals. Both of these feed the occult film cliches through the modern CGI film. And both fail exactly where Lost Souls succeeds they pour on flashy CGI angelic/demonic visitations and special effects but to a contrary lack of any effect. On the other hand, Janusz Kaminski almost entirely eschews any CGI or makeup effects and concentrates on psychologically driven scares with subtle and effective results. Indeed, it is a surprise that Lost Souls waited on the shelves so long it offers exactly the same effective psychologically-derived horrors that The Blair Witch Project (1999) and The Sixth Sense (1999) created a new audience for. Its languishing without release for a year shows only that producers do not understand what makes these films work.
(Nominee for Best Cinematography at this sites Best of 2000 Awards).