Studio: Inception Media Group
Director: Brett Donowho
Writer: Colet Abedi, Sam Sarkoob
Producer: Brett Donowho, Martin Wiley
Stars: Samaire Armstrong, Ian Bohen, Kristina Anapau, Steve Bacic, Allison McAtee, Steven Schub, Charles Solomon Jr.
A demon offers a tortured man the chance to save his own life if he chooses to take the souls of five other people.
“5 Souls” features a duo of parallel storylines that takes so long to finally intersect that it feels like watching two completely different movies simultaneously. Any bewilderment that besets the audience is an extension of a confused script that chooses seemingly arbitrary moments to randomly leapfrog between the two tales.
Broken by a building collapse that claimed the lives of his wife and daughter, disgraced ex-cop Sam starts his mornings with a prescription medication whiskey cocktail and a pre-breakfast round of Russian roulette. Singularly obsessed with taking down the corrupt businessman responsible for constructing faulty highrises, his character arc qualifies him as a protagonist while his suicidal personality disqualifies him from being a relatable hero.
But Sam at least pops up the ball for an easy out when it comes to identifying with the audience. The main attraction in the second story is a swing and a miss strikeout as far as captivating personas go. Upon seeing the news report on TV regarding a new building collapse, Noah dizzies himself into a coma where a demon named Yusef strikes up a bargain for the man’s life. Noah can either accept his own fate, or he can claim five souls for Yusef and be spared. Before any real moral struggle can ensue, Noah practically exclaims, “who do you want me to kill first?”
Noah then proceeds to wander the medical facility campus in his hospital gown while shoving faces underwater or into a smothering pillow. Yusef stops by and visits Noah in between kills while a blind woman with oddly cut bangs plays the part of an angel on the other shoulder. This gives the script a chance to provide self-indulgent monologues from characters on either side of the good and evil line.
Meanwhile, Sam hooks up with a detective named Sara for a police procedural flavored with a touch of “Red Shoe Diaries” as the two strike up a sexual relationship for no sensible reason other than because it was written into the screenplay. Eventually, as in after one full hour of the 77-minute runtime has elapsed, the audience is finally let in on the secret of how the supernatural killer relates to the real world investigation into corporate corruption.
By then, chances are that the viewer may be yawning too loudly to catch the revelation. The actors fit their parts and the production is polished, but the nature of the character relationships and the setups for their motivations are on as flimsy of a foundation as the poorly constructed buildings. The dialogue from the angel and the demon is eye rolling while the structure of the presentation keeps the audience disengaged from the outset.
The parallel plotlines and the climactic reveal are ideas that likely sounded clever on the paper of the script. But the overall substance of that screenplay was shaky ground to begin with, and the cinematic style of “5 Souls” ends up delivering more smirks and groans than chills or surprises.
Review Score: 40