Soul Survivors

Surely this must be the end. After all, how many Scream-derived horror films with punning titles and a well-scrubbed young cast could still be backlogged? Even by the slack standards of the subgenre, Soul Survivors, the directorial debut of Blue Streak screenwriter Steve Carpenter, scores pretty low. Hot off Get Over It, Melissa Sagemiller stars as a teen departing for her first semester at Middleton College, an institution known for its high academic standards, excellent swim team, and eerie lighting. She and her pals Eliza Dushku, ex-boyfriend Wes Bentley, and scratchy-voiced beau Casey Affleck get their academic careers off to an unpromising start when a night of revelry at an underground club ends in a drunk-driving accident that kills Affleck. Or does it? Soon, Sagemiller begins spotting Affleck and some creepy-looking goth types scurrying around campus. Is it a hallucination? Or could Soul Survivors be working toward some creepy twist, à la Carnival Of Souls, Jacob's Ladder, The Sixth Sense, or "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge"? It certainly could. At one point, Sagemiller takes a test in which every question involves famous quotes about hell. That's what's known as foreshadowing, and Soul Survivors is chock full of it at the expense of nearly every other element. Paced like a seventh-period study hall, Survivors plays like a joke with a receding punchline. That's its only trace of humor, however. Dour as a sermon and only slightly less moralistic, the film codes most of its characters—all dark-haired, with a taste for booze, drugs, and sexual experimentation—as hellbound, holding out the possibility of redemption only for the pretty blonde with a cross around her neck. Wasn't the whole point of Scream to put these clichés to rest, not resurrect them?

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