Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Soul Searcher


Directed by: Neil Oseman
Written by: Neil Oseman & James Clarke
Starring: Ray Bullock Jr, Katrina Cooke & Andrew Nicol

An ambitious and often infectious independent British sci-fi, Soul Searcher overcomes budget limitations with oodles of creativity, but is let down by some poor plotting and cloying melodramatics. The initial premise is ripe for creativity as the existing Death decides is time for a new replacement and finds him in the form of young world spurned street sweeper Joe (Bullock Jr). Training him in the ways of the Grim reaper, how to catch escaped Demons and martial arts (!?), Death feels Joe is the ideal candidate to take up the soul collecting mantle. However, Joe isn’t so sure and can’t quite leave the real world behind; for him in the form of the lovely Heather (Cooke). Fraternizing with the real world soon leads to trouble when Heather is killed by an escaped soul, Dante (Nicol) who is looking to open the portals to hell so he can find his long lost love. But, as we all know, opening the portals to hell is never a good idea and soon leads to many other horrible things crossing over into the real world.

Oseman’s film, shot on a shoe string budget, features some fine camerawork, dazzling special effects and a fair share of high impact fights on what must have been less than peanuts. The film’s ideas and themes don’t always gel and despite a strong opening, Soul Searcher gets clogged up in the middle section with two many characters, too much melodrama and a pace that loses all urgency. Joe and Heather’s relationship, though nicely performed by Bullock and Cooke, takes up way too much time and is of the soap opera variety. When Joe is supposed to be off chasing demons and collecting souls he’s actually mulling around deciding how to tell Heather that he loves her. This leads to way too many secondary characters being introduced or tagging along including Joe’s annoying best mate, a pistol brandishing Trinity like action heroine and some rock band who get so much free advertising it would make Coca Cola envious.

Things pick up in the final stretch where Oseman manages to stage an impressive battle aboard a train heading straight to hell. Soul Searcher is by no means bad and for those who like quirky fantasy with Buffy the Vampire Slayer style trappings and action, then Soul Searcher is a definite must. It’s also very British in tone and style making it a slightly unique sci-fi action ride that just needed to cut back on its abundance of pointless characters and overlong running time.

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