By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 13, 2000
Here's a thought, after watching "Lost Souls," which is another of
those horror flicks about Satan's spawn: What would Satan worshipers
do without numbers?
Ben Chaplin and Winona Ryder in the mathematical satanic thriller, "Lost Souls."
It's amazing to me that, for all their pronouncements about the power
to destroy's God's work on earth, these guys are always waiting for
the right time and the right combination of numbers before the doom
program can begin.
There they are, the meanest sentient or spiritual beings in
existence, and they're waiting for Year So and So, or some variable of
666, or some numerological combination that was predicted in the
Bible, some seventh sign of this and that or in this case . . . the 33rd
birthday of a certain someone who just might be the son of . . .
These guys, these Rosemary's People, are nothing but geeks with
potbellies and horns. Forget the pentagrams. They should worship slide
rules. They should drop the bell, book and candle and pull out their
It's time for them to own up to themselves. They're just glorified
trainspotters, plane spotters or algebraic club conventioneers. I
mean, if they're so much tougher than the Supreme Being, why are they
so caught up with ancient timetables? Get an anti-life.
Well, moving past this minor issue, let's quickly discuss "Lost
Souls," which seems to be nothing more or less than Winona Ryder's
desire to wear Gothic makeup. She has excellent eyes for mascara, by
the way. Nonie, girl, you are so Blair Witch!
She's Maya Larkin, who was saved from the devil's clutches by Father
Lareaux (John Hurt), a priest with all the right facial wrinkles and
But Satan lurks everywhere and could return at any time. When Maya
and her priestly pals (including Father Lareaux) attempt to exorcise
possessed serial murderer Henry Birdson (John Diehl), the killer
leaves a numerically coded warning. True to geeky tradition, Maya
decodes those numbers to spell out the name of Peter Kelson.
Kelson (Ben Chaplin) happens to be a bestselling author who likes to
write about criminal psycho-killers and demystify the evil around
There's the setup. You don't need to hear any more. But you should
know that "Lost Souls," which marks the directorial debut of Janusz
Kaminski, cinematographer of "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private
Ryan," is a pretty dreary affair to sit through. It's not even scary.
Reason: Kaminski's trying to make a classy thriller. This means no
cheap scary effects. No pigeons fluttering. No camera closing in on
the hero with loud music. And only a few will-his-head-explode?
moments. Basically, it's just a green-tinted, contemplative pseudo art-
horror flick that can't avoid such silly pronouncements as this
from a certain Evil Character, whose identity I shouldn't divulge:
"They've had their 2,000 years. Now it's our turn."
There you go again, you guys, with your numbers, numbers, numbers!
"Lost Souls" (R, 102 minutes) Contains long-winded implications of
scariness choking in a sea of green cinematography.