Review: Shady Tree Films’ Soul to Keep

This is just what I needed this Halloween season – a good, old fashioned “oops we summoned a demon” flick. So many years later and so many dunderheads continue to read mysterious passages from occult books and are super surprised to see that they’re under attack by monsters from Hell. Geez, who would have thought? Sure, it sounds like I’m making fun, but David Allensworth and Moniere’s Soul to Keep was a bloody, disturbing horror movie that grabs you from the start and never lets go. It’s a classic plot with a modern twist that successfully pairs The Evil Dead with Night of the Demons, all in a secluded ranch house full of dark and uncomfortable secrets. Shot under Shady Tree Films in association with Cineque Pictures and based on the screenplay by Allensworth and Eric Bram, Soul to Keep stars Sandra Mae Frank, Aurora Heimbach, Kate Rose Reynolds, Tony Spitz, Craig Fogel, Jordan Theodore, Derek Long and Jessie Jordan. Soul to Keep just screened at Shriekfest Film Festival on October 6th, and here’s why you should keep your eyes on it during the rest of its festival run and eventual home media release.

Labeling this one as “classic” and “The Evil Dead meets Night of the Demons” probably gives you the idea that you know how Soul to Keep is going to play out. Wrong! I was surprised to see that this film didn’t follow the traditional horror plot building architecture, resulting in a film that was genuinely scary, suspenseful and out of this world weird. Even the order of the on screen deaths weren’t anywhere near the order I predicted. It’s fun, to have some level of unpredictability back in the genre. The group of friends visiting a relative’s farmhouse decide to party, of course. The house is full of creepy ghost kid voices. And as the haunting/possessions roll out, the remaining survivors lose their inhibitions and minds. It’s all material that we’ve seen before, but when it comes down to the important moments and the suspense building blocks, Soul to Keep was written well enough to keep things interesting. Also, I didn’t find any of the main characters to be unlikable, so Soul to Keep is a movie that contains characters you can actually root for.

They’re almost loving, in a way. Soul to Keep boasts that it’s the first “open captured horror film” since one of the lead characters is deaf. As they sign in the movie, their words are close captioned on the screen. One of the things I loved most about this film is that all of the character picked up sign language just so they could communicate more clearly, more personally with their female friend. It makes it all the more upsetting when they get torn apart one by one. Props to the cast for delivering performances that gave this film an extra emotional push, and performances that continue to showcase that above-average skills can be found in the horror genre. And from a production standpoint, this one was expertly produced and filmed to perfection. I didn’t notice any production or editing errors, and the camera work flawlessly captured the woods around the farmhouse, all the terror within its walls, and the all important atmosphere needed to drive this one home. Some of this success can be credited to producers Allensworth, Moniere, Patrick Kendall and Matt Meyer, as well as cinematographer Eric Giovon and editor Ray Chung. Wonderful job to the entire cast and crew.

Throw in a Spider-Man demonic kiss and, yeah, this one’s pretty solid. The only thing I didn’t care for is the last ten minutes. It was kind of a moot way to end such a decent movie. Some things shouldn’t be undone so easily and the ending doesn’t need to be that happy, but I digress. Everything else with Soul to Keep was too good to let a fraction of the movie ruin my entire viewing experience. I think it’s going to have a bright future ahead of it, and many awards to win at various film festivals. Soul to Keep returns the horror genre to its roots, without all the hokey and over-sexualized crap that’s available so commonly now a days. And for that, I thank you. Well done. Final Score: 7 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)

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