Remember all those old movies where the local natives would prevent the hero from taking their picture because they thought the camera would steal their souls? Sweet Taste of Souls updates that idea and gives a new meaning to “take a picture, it’ll last longer”.
A man (Jesse LeNoir) sneaks out of a restaurant and runs for his life. A woman, Ellinore (Honey Lauren, Dracula) walks around the building talking to herself angrily and using the cleaver in her hand on the walls. Something that looks like a common occurrence. As the man runs into some others Ellinore slips his picture into a frame and he vanishes, only to reappear in the picture, able to move and plead for his freedom, but this time he can’t escape.
Those folk he ran into Nate (John Salandria, Club Dead) and Kyle (Mark Valeriano, Monster Hunters, The 27 Club) are in a band along with Wendy (Amber Gaston, Mermaid Down) and Lily (Sarah J. Bartholomew, Robot Riot). Hungry they stop for a bite to eat at a familiar-looking eatery. They don’t notice somebody surreptitiously taking pictures of them as they enter.
Director Terry Ross and co-writer F. Scott Mudgett have come up with an intriguing concept for Sweet Taste of Souls. Most genre films revolving around cameras and pictures go the route of Polaroid and somehow bring death to the subject. Here they become trapped in a sort of limbo, a fate that reflects what a camera actually does.
Of course, a stream of people disappearing has caught some of the townsfolk’s attention. We get a subplot involving Barney (Thom Michael Mulligan, Emulator) and Sid (Frank Papia) whose own daughter is among the missing. They suspect Ellinore but have no idea what is really going on. Their investigations add another level to the suspense.
And there is quite a bit of suspense in Sweet Taste of Souls. Obviously, the captives want out of their prisons. But as a further incentive, there’s Ellinore’s less than healthy mental state. She has serious anger management issues and takes them out on her captives. And while they don’t age, they can die. Near the beginning we see her submerge one of the frames in water and drown its occupants. It’s a fairly effective scene and hung over the rest of the film like a spectre for me.
There are some other neat touches like the captive’s attempts to communicate with sign language and some nasty business with a paper shredder. There’s also several small details that help give the viewer a clue about Ellinore’s mental state and just what is going on.
On the other hand, Sweet Taste of Souls lacks likable characters. Nate is an asshole who seems to delight in starting shit. He’s the kind of person who thinks it’s funny to “accidentally” piss on somebody. The constant bickering between him and the rest of them got on my nerves very quickly.
Kyle isn’t so much bad as just annoying and juvenile until he finally has to stand up and be responsible. Surprisingly, considering the film is written and directed by women, Lily and Wendy have even less character development than the guys do. Some work on their characters would have helped the film considerably.
Given the film’s budget, I suppose the CGI near the end was inevitable. And again, considering the budget, it isn’t bad. But it does clash with the fairly believable look of the rest of the film. But those are small complaints and overall Sweet Taste of Souls works quite well.