Plot: What’s it about?
There seem to be countless movies dealing with death. After all, it is the one and only certain thing in our life (unless you count taxes)! So from all different aspects, the subject has been tackled; and it’s a safe bet that none of us will even know for certain what exactly lies in that great beyond until our time has come. Such is the case with Soul Survivors, a genre movie that tries a bit too hard to make us believe that what we’re seeing is real; but with the carpet yanked out from under us one too many times, it’s hard to tell what is real and what isn’t. Thankfully the cast isn’t that big, and the movie isn’t that long so we can get right to the point of the movie. Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller) is a Freshman in college, heading there for her first semester. Currently, the love of her life is Sean (Casey Affleck) but it seems that they haven’t grown close enough to say "those three words" just yet. To add fuel to the fire, Matt (Wes Bentley) is Cassie’s old boyfriend and can’t seem to get over her. He has his own flame, Annabel (Eliza Dushku), but it’s clear that he longs for life with Cassie instead of his raven-haired beauty.
Now this is where things get interesting. The gang decides to hit up a local nightclub to let off some steam, but as the party starts to end, they head out one by one. Matt and Cassie share a moment that happens to be witnessed by Sean, who isn’t happy to see his girlfriend kissing her old boyfriend. As they all head off in the car (presumably to home, they never say), Sean isn’t speaking to Cassie and all of the sudden they’re involved in a horrible car accident. The rest of the movie continues from here, but we’re never sure of who actually made it out of that wreck alive. We’re led to believe that it’s Sean who is the only one who perished, but it never tells. I personally think that the worst thing The Sixth Sense did was to incorporate a whole new twist to the audience and now every movie that tends to deal with death; we have to guess if the person is really dead or not (sorry if I just ruined The Sixth Sense for anyone)!
Cassie starts seeing images of Sean everywhere, even talking to him and thinking that he is really not dead. All the while, Matt uses this as an excuse to try and get closer to Cassie; much to the dislike of Annabel. For some strange reason, the character of Raven (Angela Featherstone) is introduced as a love interest of Annabel? Raven’s character doesn’t do a whole lot but utter cryptic sentences and add even more confusion to the already dicey plot. I don’t want to say any more, because I’d just go off on the movie even more and possibly give away the ending. Not that if I did, it would make any sense, but I do have some compassion for anyone who cares to view the feature. The movie has potential, and maybe another viewing might be needed, but I just found it too confusing for a movie that has a great cast of young actors, it’s just not worth the trip. Also, I do have to add that this is the "Killer Edition" which supposedly has more sex and violence. I didn’t find the movie that sexual or violent, so I guess it was pretty lame in theaters. Who knows? If you’re a fan of movies like Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream then this may be up your alley. Personally, I didn’t care for it and found it a bit confusing. But that’s just my opinion…
Video: How does it look?
Soul Survivors is presented in a 1.77:1 anamorphic transfer. This is a bit off the subject, but 1.78:1 is the exact aspect ratio that a 16:9 TV uses, so it boggles my mind why movies are shot in both a 1.77 and 1.78 ratio. Just pick one! In any case, the image is very clean, free of any digital artifacts the level of detail is very good as well. What bothered me the most were two things: edge enhancement and the hues. There isn’t a whole lot of edge enhancement, but enough so that it’s noticeable and with this being a brand new movie, it was distracting. The colors also seemed very saturated. The shades of red seemed overexposed and not on par for a new to DVD movie. All of this aside, though, and it does look better than most of the movies out there. Not reference quality, but not bad either.
Audio: How does it sound?
If the menus are any indication of what the sound was going to be like, I would have turned my volume way down. Well, they weren’t. The menus are about the best-sounding thing here. Granted, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track does sound good, but based on what we’re initially shown, I was expecting a bit more. Still, the dialogue is very clean and the scenes which feature the gothic night club do sound awesome. Some scenes in the church do sound good as well, with the surrounds being active during the length of the scene. While I was expecting a bit more, don’t be let down by the way this sounds.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Artisan is very hit and miss when it comes to the quality of their Special Edition DVD’s. With titles like The Limey and the Ultimate T2, they have shown us that they can produce great-looking and sounding DVD’s with supplements galore. This falls in the middle of the road when it comes to supplements, but it does have a nice array of features. The first are the menus. Yes, the menus…you can pick "Dream", "Reality" or "Nightmare" to be greeted with the same options, just a different background and music is different with these choices. Not a big deal, but it is kind of clever. Better yet, why not do like History of the World Part I and have them be random? Anyway…next up is a select screen specific commentary with star Melissa Sagemiller. She gives us an introduction as well as commentary on the following scenes: The New Club, Mid-Term Exam, Sean Returns, Poolside Attack, Caught Between Two Worlds and her final words. I figure for a movie that was only 85 minutes, she could take that long to do a commentary for the whole movie, but hey…who am I to complain. I must also add that this is the "Killer Cut" of the movie featuring more sex and violence; so I have to wonder how much longer the movie actually is since this version is only 85 minutes. I didn’t see the movie in theaters, so I have no idea what was added and what was not (and they don’t tell you either). A trio of deleted scenes is also included and again, since this is an extended version of the film, you’d figure that all the deleted scenes would actually be in the movie, but alas…no. "Funeral for a Friend", "Telephone Call" and "Saying Good-Bye" are the scenes included and there is no optional commentary, thought I think they would have worked fine in the movie. A couple of featurettes are also included, "Behind the Deathmask – The Making of Soul Survivors" and "Living Dangerously – The Art of Harvey Danger". Both are rather brief and say essentially the same thing. Interviews with the actors and some clips from the movie are all you’ll get here. There is also a theatrical trailer and some animated storyboards (which are, admittedly, cool). Not a bad disc, but it could have been so much more.