A death in the family, an inherited house in the woods, a locked basement containing a secret room. We’ve all seen this before. Add a diverse group of college kids looking to party and you have the starting point of the first feature from directors David Allensworth and Moniere, SOUL TO KEEP, (not to be confused with MY SOUL TO KEEP). And of more other films than I can count.
Plot-wise SOUL TO KEEP doesn’t add anything new to the genre. Erin (Aurora Heimbach) and her brother Josh (Tony Spitz) have inherited their grandfather’s house in the woods. Along with Josh’s girlfriend Tara (Sandra May Frank), and some friends they go to check it out and, of course, party. The characters all show the usual lack of good judgment when confronted with the remains of some kind of ritual. Rather than getting out of the house, or at least the basement, they have to perform the ritual for themselves. And soon enough we’re in EVIL DEAD and BORNLESS ONES territory as they become possessed one by one. Can the last survivors send Beelzebub and his minions back to Hell?
What is a new wrinkle is SOUL TO KEEP’s use of sign language. Tara is deaf as is the actress that plays her. Characters frequently communicate with sign language as well as speech. There’s on-screen “Open Captioning” for the scenes where only sign language is used. While Tara’s lack of hearing is instrumental in a couple of scenes it’s not used that much. The captioning is distracting when it occurs. It’s large yellow letters placed near whoever is signing. Traditional subtitling would have been a better choice.
Apart from that though SOUL TO KEEP is a familiar story told in an entertaining enough way. And with an ending, I wasn’t expecting. The film is fairly mild in terms of skin and blood. Especially given a couple of scenes that were promising a lot more than they ended up delivering. You would think one of the Princes of Hell would deserve a little more debauchery.
An enjoyable enough film, though more suited to casual horror fans, or those who don’t like too much gore, SOUL TO KEEP made its world premiere October 6th at this year’s Shriekfest. You can keep updated on future showings and release plans via the film’s website and Facebook page.