Hunting Souls begins fittingly enough as Mike (Aiden Turner, All My Children, Charlie’s Christmas Wish) wakes from a nightmare about being hunted to find the room is freezing. His wife Angie (Sunny Mabrey, Girls Getaway Gone Wrong, Holiday Breakup) tells him he’s imagining it. He gets more distressed when he sees their daughter Sophie (Chloe and Sophia Garcia-Frizzi, The Walking Dead) standing at the foot of the bed staring at them. Angie sees nothing. Seconds later Sophie seems to walk through the wall, then comes a call from her room.
It seems the poor child has recurring health issues and nobody at the local hospital can figure out just what is causing them. And she has no idea where all the marks on her body came from. Dr. Thomas (Charles Green, Bad Trip, The House with the Clock in its Walls) notes that Sophie has the symptoms of a form of malnutrition despite being well fed. The same thing that killed one of her friends. So he calls CPC, he should have called Ghostbusters instead because I have an insidious feeling I know what’s going on.
Between social services turning up and Mike’s boss warning him about the time he’s missing due to his daughter’s illness, Hunting Souls feels like a Lifetime medical drama rather than a horror film. And the acting is on the same level. Aiden Turner is especially bad, he seems to have forgotten he’s in a movie and not back doing soap operas.
Writer/director Diego Silva Acevedo lets the melodrama continue into Hunting Souls’ second act as we find out that Mike and Angie already lost one child before remembering that this is supposed to be a horror movie. Then Mike becomes obsessed with his nightmares, doors open and close by themselves, and an unseen presence pounds on their front door as a camera races around madly. You know the stuff demons learn in House Haunting 101.
Even when we see the demon pretend to be Angie during a blindfolded game with Sophie, Hunting Souls doesn’t manage to create any chills. It’s not just that it’s so familiar, familiar can work if done well enough, its that its all so slow and unenthusiastically filmed. It’s as though everyone involved considered themselves above doing a horror film and were going through the motions for a paycheck.
And at no point, not even after writing appears on the wall while they’re in the room or after Sophie is nearly drowned in a bathtub or pulled out a second floor window, does her parents consider vacating the premises. The characters in Hunting Souls are incredibly stupid even by genre standards. Sadly the one moment in the film that feels like something a real person would do is when Mike’s boss (Alpha Trivette, The Devil Below, Crimes and Mister Meanors) threatens to fire him for missing to many days to take care of his daughter.
Finally, our unhappy family get some help when Mike’s co-worker Ron (Kevin Wayne Walker, A Hard Problem, The Stalker) tells him he should talk to his wife Hope (Adelle Drahos, Hawkeye) because she knows about stuff like this. Turns out she’s an expert on the very demon that’s responsible for their problems. She also knows Mike’s dreams of being hunted aren’t dreams but the result of astral projection. All of which leads Hunting Souls to an insidiously familiar ending.
Hunting Souls really has nothing going for it. Not only is there no gore,there’s a grand total of one death in the whole film and you can guess who it is as soon as you see them. When we see the demon it looks like what you might get if you ordered Hellraiser’s Skinless Frank off of Wish. A failure on every level, it’s not even so bad it’s amusing, it’s so bad it’s painful. It’s one of those films I’d give half a star to, but Google throws up an error if I give less than one.
Hunting Souls is available on Digital and VOD platforms via 4Digital Media. You can check their website or the film’s Facebook page for more information. You can also check FilmTagger for more films like it but, hopefully, better.