Cassie is off to college for one last hurrah with her boyfriend, Sean. But when a car accident leaves him dead she feels like she’s going crazy. Add to that a hovering ex-boyfriend, an antagonistic BFF, Sean’s spooky ghost, and a whole lotta creepy guys following her and she really feels insane. Can she uncover the truth before it’s too late? Find out in… Soul Survivors.
How?! Cassie and Annabel are BFFs going off to college. Tagging along for the first weekend is Cassie’s ex-boyfriend, Matt, and her new boyfriend, Sean. It’s a pretty boring weekend until Annabel suggests a weirdo rave and everyone is like coooool. Off they go where they dance the night away having a grand old time. At the end of the night a jealous Matt convinces Cassie that he needs one last kiss (you know, for closure) and she’s like, fine. But, uh oh! Sean saw and he’s a bit jelly. In the car they fight and a distracted Cassie ends up crashing. A few weeks later Cassie is mourning the death of Sean at school. She is struggling to keep up with her classes, Annabel is like ‘get over it’, and she’s starting to see ghosts and a couple of real creepy dudes she recognizes from the night of the crash. Fearing some sort of occult conspiracy and feeling like she is being chased she ends up fainting and being saved by a kind priest. The next day Matt arrives and starts to care for her in a definitely not creepy way… for sure not a hovering weirdo. Anyway, Cassie continues to see the creepy dudes everywhere and even starts to get a suspicion that Matt is in cahoots with the creepy dudes. Ultimately after a bunch of other nonsense happens and despite her fears about Matt, she asks him to drive her home. Instead he takes her back to the rave place and she’s like “what thuuuuu,” and tries to escape. It’s then that she (and we the audience, who never saw this coming for sure) learn that all the events of the film have been but a dream (what a twist!). A dream occurring in the final moments of Cassie’s life in the hospital after the crash. It’s all led to this question: does she want to live? And she’s like hellllll, yeah. Check out her boyfriend. He’s Casey Affleck… Ben Affleck’s brother. So… uh… yeah… she wants to live. THE END.
Why?! I mean, I could be snide and say, “seriously, what was the point of this totally ridiculous movie that meant nothing because none of it actually happened?”… and I will. But I’ll also say that the point is really about life and love and what makes someone want to live. Matt and Annabel are also fighting for their lives but in the end they are seduced by the weirdo rave people because they promise better things for them (for Matt it’s being with Cassie, for Annabel it’s being free). Cassie though has Sean waiting for her and that is what she chooses.
Who?! There are a couple credits that go to “Jump Rope Twins” which I don’t really recall much about in the film. I went back and looked and literally it’s just some twins in a school yard that are jumping rope… not a hallucination or anything. Cassie just sort of smiles at them and goes on her way. Weird. But at least this can now win Best Twin Film award.
What?! This is a pretty major twist. In fact it’s one of the holy grails of what we are looking for in a BMT twist-em-up. Some of the best of all time have employed this tragic mistake of a plot device (i.e. I Know Who Killed Me), so always a treat. Bonus points for being obvious from the jump.
Where?! It’s hard to pin down in a fun kind of way. From the license plates in the beginning they are from Illinois. They are heading East since Matt is tagging along on his way to Harvard, while Sean has to then fly out to California. Given the name of the college (Middleton) I presumed it was some play on Middlebury and we are in the Northeast. All checks other than Sean saying he’ll be 2000 miles away in CA. Likely just an estimate, but pretty vague overall. Interesting too that we see the characters drinking some Goose Island at one point that totally gives away they they filmed in Illinois and Indiana. D, cause it is fun to try to figure out.
When?! I agree with Patrick that it does appear that there is a September 2001 calendar indicating that the film takes place around September 26th. However, I would like to also point out that that’s bullshit. It’s also clear that she took her midterm on the 19th of some month. So she had a midterm on September 19th? Also there are children that jump out screaming trick or treat in costumes… in September? Also… ALSO… it’s all a dream. So this doesn’t matter. B… I mean it’s still a secret holiday film even if it’s a secret dream holiday film.
This is as close to not being an actual film as we get. Narratively it resembles a baffling dream more than a horror film and indeed about four seconds into the film you can be pretty sure none of it is actually happening. “It was all a dream,” is such a bad movie twist that you rarely actually see it in the wild, and yet… Soul Survivors exists. They probably should have just trashed it at some point. The acting wasn’t good, the story was a mish-mash of nonsensical sequences held together by a thread (or perhaps not held together at all), and ultimately the twist meant everything was meaningless. So of course I loved it! It is a truly horrid piece of BMT cinema! A relic of the Scream high school/college horror bonanza that (rightfully) barely qualified for BMT as a wide release. I’m a real sucker for a high school/college setting, but even that couldn’t rescue this dog poo. Like Half Past Dead from last week I think this film will get some play at the year end awards, but for very different reasons. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! We got spooky ghosts. We got a barely-there Luke Wilson. We got (checks notes) Melissa Sagemiller. We got Soul Survivors! Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – For a bit while reading the preview I thought “uh oh … this looks like a trite horror film from the 2000s.” But it does have a lot of cred. Top 10 BMeTric for 2001, a sub-10% on Rotten Tomatoes, a BOMB by Leonard Maltin. It is doing everything you want it to do. What were my expectations? I was obviously hoping for a The Fog (2005) situation, but secretly dreading that it was actually just going to be boring.
The Good – Hmmmmmmmmmm. Nothing I don’t think. I literally can’t think of a single thing they did well in this film, which is kind of mind blowing to think about. The only thing maybe is the goth aesthetic they have going for it? That is a very late-90s to early-00s thing and in a way it is a bit charming to see on screen 20 years later. Best Bit: Goth aesthetic.
The Bad – My god, let me count them. The two main actors aren’t as good as their supporting actors. It cribs from about five different horror films (not all of them good). The soundtrack is an abomination. Maybe back in 2001 it was a different story, but I made a YouTube playlist from the soundtrack to get a feeling for it and wooooooooof. Let’s just say I’m not a fan, a lot of death metal or whatever that genre is and I’m just not a fan. The bad guys are also just a weird choice, and the direction makes the film feel chopped to shit and borderline incomprehensible. I would call it incomprehensible, but because all of the ideas are stolen from other films it is actually pretty easy to follow. Fatal Flaw: Dare I? I do, the soundtrack makes me sad and I hate it, sorry.
The BMT – There is a long list of bad stuff and I got into it a bit, but the film is very flat and just kind of happens while you sit there wondering when they are going to reveal that she is in a world between life and death … because about 20 minutes in it is abundantly obvious that that is where it is going. It is a really bad horror film, but also not so bad that I would want to watch it again, so where does that leave us? With a flat kind of boring but genuinely dog poo in my face film I think. Notable for the year, but probably not to BMT overall. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, blessedly not as boring as it could have been. Just enough interestingly bad choices to keep me a bit entertained.
Roast-radamus – Eagle eyes Jamie with the Bad Movie Twin (Who?) as well for jump rope twins which I’ll add here for posterity. A fun Setting as a Character (Where?) for Middleton College, which is somewhere within driving distance of Chicago. A weird Super Secret Holiday Film (When?) because we see Trick or Treaters … but it is also by all accounts September, but also a dream? Which brings us to obviously the worst of the Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that it was all a dreaaaaaaaam. Otherwise just closest to BMT I think, as I said, just enough bizarre choices to keep viewers entertained.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Are you ready for that Sequel / crossover that no one was asking for? That’s right, we get to see what happened to Sasha Petrosevitch in Half Past Dead in the time between when he is shot and almost killed and when he becomes Half Past Dead! He goes to the in-between world where Ja Rule keeps trying to get him to stop jacking cars and come back to life with him, and his dead wife is smooching on him and trying to get him to stay with her in this definitely-not-death-ghost-world. All the time he’s getting back into Akito, dropping the pounds, and feeling better about himself every day. Could death be so bad when you look and feel so good and are smooching your wife every day? But in the end with the help of Ja Rule he realizes he has unfinished business in the real world, smooches his wife, and returns to the land of the living. Soul Survivors 2: Dead O’Clock.
You Just Got Schooled – At a loss for Melissa Sagemiller bangers I had to just turn to a similarly gothy film from the era, The Craft which I had never seen. The cast is stacked though. Neve Campbell (who says “sooory” with such a thick Canadian accent I didn’t even need to check that she is Canadian), Fairuza Balk (from The Waterboy), Robin Tunney (about to hit her apex with Supernova and Vertical Limit), with Christine Taylor and Skeet Ulrich in smaller roles! That’s a pretty solid cast top to bottom right there. And the film is good. I liked the good vs. bad witch thing they got going, and they didn’t bother really dealing with hanging a franchise off of it like they definitely would have these days. B+. Holds up well even 25 years later.