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Soulmate

I didn't have high expectations for Soulmate; the cover is completely ripped off from The Awakening (so I kept thinking it was that movie in my queue) and the description on Netflix reads nearly identically to The Lake House. The combination of the low rating Netflix thought I’d give it and knowing that Neil Marshall felt good enough about it to produce it, created an intoxicating desire for me to give it a try. Unfortunately, I think Marshall produced the movie because his wife directed it, not because he truly felt it was a good movie. The lesson? Don't trust other people when they tell you a movie is good - that goes doubly for me - you should never trust me.

Soulmate is basically a chick-flick wearing the mask of a horror movie. The gist? A woman's husband is killed in a car accident. The guilt she feels for surviving drives her to try and kill herself. When her attempt fails, she runs away to a remote village and takes refuge in what turns out to be a haunted cabin. A relationship develops between the woman and the ghost. If you're thinking this can't end well for anyone involved, you're right.

Soulmate is your basic enough little ghost story with no real surprises and a strangely unresolved ending. At times hopeful, rarely tense, and never (EVER) frightening, the plot felt like something out of the indie "slice of life" world wedded with some Jane Austin-y thing. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it was made for Lifetime.

That said, on paper there’s something sort of compelling in Soulmate’s story: a romantic relationship blossoming between a human and a ghost is really just another spin on Romeo and Juliet; a couple of unlikely lovers, kept apart by elements outside their control (including meddling friends). 

Far be it from me to be going soft on all of you here, but I think there’s an opportunity for some great, gothic romance in Soulmate that never fully gets realized. (More on that later). I'm not immediately turned off by the concept of a human / ghost romance; I think it's a relatively under explored horror movie plot (although I feel like plenty of books have taken it on). 

The elements that fuel all those torrid romance novels also fuel many horror movies. Someone watching you sleep sounds sweet enough when they are your lover, but could easily be terrifying were the watcher's motives unclear or even outright malicious. Mysterious gifts are thoughtful surprises from a suitor, but uncomfortably unwelcome from a stalker. 

Perhaps I’ve got my head screwed on sideways, but I can’t help thinking there’s some creepy, sexy opportunities for our ghost / human couple to explore. Maybe he’s sort of a succubus and he needs to feed on her sexual energy to not fade away into the black, lonely nothingness of death. Maybe she can be impregnated by his spirit sperm and give birth to… something unusual. Alas, none of these things happens. They spend all of their time chatting and developing an emotional connection. (Bleh).

Soulmate really only steps out of the romance box and begins reaching deeply into the horror world during the last third of the movie; this is when the niceties start to fade and the ghost’s “evil intentions” and “violent temper" start to surface. Why are those potentially dramatic romance elements left on the table and never fully acted on? Because it turns out this ghost is a murderous bastard and he’s bent on killing his new love interest. (Queue the dramatic music and the commentary on domestic abuse).

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the movie is the UK censors banned it for the scene in which the main character attempts suicide. When you hold that up against the fact that they DIDN'T ban Nekromantik, well, you just have to wonder what the hell they were doing over there.

All in all, I got about as much out of this movie as I expected to and that, my friends, is the story of my movie blogger life. #firstworldproblems, I tell you.

You can check out the Soulmate trailer here:


In case you missed Nekromantik, you can watch the trailer here:

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