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Soul Survivors is a 2001 psychological thriller film starring Melissa Sagemiller as college student Cassie, whose boyfriend Sean (Casey Affleck) dies in a car accident that results from her driving after a night of partying. The accident leaves Cassie racked with guilt and emotionally vulnerable to the point that she begins hallucinating strange visions and waking-dreams, even though Cassie's friends Annabel (Eliza Dushku) and Matt (Wes Bentley), as well as a local priest called Father Jude (Luke Wilson), all attempt to assist her in coping with the loss.

Plot

Cassie and Sean, as well as ex-boyfriend Matt and good friend Annabel, go to a club situated in an old church. There Cassie sees a man with a clear, plastic mask (Carl Paoli) and an imposing man with a scarred face (Ken Moreno). Deathmask tries to grab her on the dance floor, but she pushes him away and steps outside the club with Sean.

In the parking lot, Matt eavesdrops on their conversation. Sean confesses his love for Cassie, who claims she feels the same way. When Sean returns to the club, Matt convinces Cassie to give him a last 'goodbye' kiss. Sean sees this, and reacts badly to it, giving Cassie the silent treatment as they drive off. Cassie, who is behind the wheel, continually looks away from the road until the car crashes. Cassie's next memory is of being rushed to the hospital; Matt and Annabel are unharmed, but Sean has been killed on impact.

During the school term that follows, Cassie has several visions of Sean. She also has visions of Deathmask and Hideous Dancer in the company of Matt and Annabel. On several occasions, she believes she is being chased by the two men, although Annabel and Matt assure her that the incidents are all in her mind. After one chase, Cassie faints and is rescued by Father Jude, a young priest who is sympathetic to her fears and offers to listen if she ever needs someone to talk to.

A few nights later, after being chased again, Cassie knocks at the church door, and Father Jude gives her sanctuary. He gives her an amulet depicting St Jude and allows her to sleep in his small room in the church. Upon awakening that morning, Cassie sees that the calendar in the room reads 1981. She enters the office of the attending priest (Rick Snyder) and asks to speak to Father Jude but is told that Father Jude died in 1981.

After a swim competition in which she has been made to participate, Cassie is chased by Deathmask. Defending herself with the tube of a fluorescent lamp, she ends up stabbing him in the stomach but when Cassie returns with Matt, they find there is no body in the pool. Even though she believes that Matt and Annabel are conspiring against her with Deathmask and Hideous Dancer, Cassie requests that Matt take her home to her mother. Instead he drives Cassie to the club, saying that he wishes to pick up Annabel. Cassie follows him but gets lost, eventually finding Annabel with a new lover called Raven (Angela Featherstone). When Raven tells Cassie to "leave or die" Cassie exits the club and makes her way back to the parking lot. There Matt drunkenly insists on another 'goodbye forever' kiss, but Cassie smashes a bottle on his head knocking him unconscious before pushing him from the car and driving away.

In a scene resembling the original accident, Cassie wrecks the car. She again comes to in the hospital. On a gurney next to her is Raven, who speaks a few words of comfort before dying. Father Jude arrives and asks if she would be willing to die in order to save Sean's life. She agrees and he then asks her if she would be willing to live for him. Cassie says that she doesn't want to die.

An episode follows in which Deathmask and Hideous Dancer strangle her with her protective medallion, from which Cassie wakes to find that everything she has experienced has been a sort of coma-dream: in the original accident, Cassie and Sean had survived, while Matt and Annabel were killed. The occupants of the other car — Raven, Deathmask, and Hideous Dancer — were also fatally injured. Cassie has spent the course of the film in an astral state, wherein those who were killed in the accident attempt to keep her with them. Father Jude, and Cassie's visions of Sean were what brought her back to life.

Cast

  • Melissa Sagemiller as Cassie
  • Casey Affleck as Sean
  • Eliza Dushku as Annabel
  • Wes Bentley as Matt
  • Angela Featherstone as Raven
  • Luke Wilson as Father Jude
  • Allen Hamilton as Dr. Haverston
  • Carl Paoli as Deathmask
  • Barbara E. Robertson as Margaret
  • Richard Pickren as Ben
  • Rick Snyder as Father MacManus
  • Candace Kroslak as Cool Blonde

Filming

Filming took place in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Some scenes were also filmed in Gary, Indiana. The filming started in May 1999 and concluded in September 1999.

Reception

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 4% based on reviews from 48 critics. On Metacritic the film has a score of 20 out of 100 based on reviews from 11 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".

The New York Times panned the film saying "Yes, there is an explanation for everything, but it is a long time coming and not worth the wait." Empire gave the film two stars and said "We’ve been here before, and we’ll be here again.". JoBlo.com rated the film 4 out of 10 and said " It just didn’t feel like a whole movie to me. It’s more of a collage of tensionless, repetitive scenes (a chase, an apparition, a chase, an apparition...and so on) patched together with crazy lighting flashing about and loud music booming in the background.

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