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4 Dead Girls: The Soul Taker
It was clear that there were going to be problems with 4 Dead Girls when, in the first few minutes, we see the putative villain, a "Nalusa Chito" or soul taker, in full light, and he's not that scary. It's a rookie mistake. If you don't have the money to make the evil entity look really, really cool, then leave as much to the viewers' imaginations as possible, for as long as possible. While the film generally looks slick, it really never recovers from this initial blunder.
Four college friends are renting a house from Devlin (Mike Campbell), who we know right off is a soul taker. The friends are Lily (Katherine Browning), her sister Lori (Ashley Love), Lori's girlfriend Pam (Leah Verrill) and the slutty fourth wheel Bianca (Tiffany S. Walker). The four can't believe their good fortune in finding such an affordable home, so close to campus. Of course, the rates are kept artificially low to facilitate soul sucking.
There's lots of relationship, character development filler in the film, but it mostly just paints in the details on very shallow characterizations: the prude, the slut, the manipulative, unfaithful lesbian, and the earnest, good hearted lesbian. Really, there's not a lot more to these characters than that, and this doesn't exactly make us care deeply about whether they live or die.
Despite the filler, it doesn't take long for people to start to die. Soon enough, the jig is up, and Devlin reveals his true nature to the girls, tempting them to betray their friends, the easier to slurp their juicy essences out. You see, he can't eat the soul of a pure person, or it hurts him, possibly even kills him. Lori figured this out because she was coincidentally researching this exact demonic being in your standard hermetic philosophy class that all good colleges offer.
The numbers of the living dwindle, and we come to our twist ending climax, which is neither inventive nor climactic. The performances are decent, but Mike Campbell is in no way creepy or serious enough to inspire anything close to the fear that his character requires to be successful. The actresses are various stages of annoying, but are at least competent with a very milquetoast script. They are definitely giving their all, but their every line read is undercut by the silliness and pointlessness of the endeavor.
The blood and gore effects are decent, but not outstanding. As I said earlier, the production looks slick and the house location is solid and believable. But those are probably the most positive things that can be said about 4 Dead Girls. Skip it.
Video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks fairly good. The image is crisp and clear, and the colors bright.
Audio is Dolby 2 channel, and is decent, but there are occasional mike pops and instances where the levels go up and down. These aren't pervasive, however, and don't materially detract from the experience. No subtitles or alternate audio tracks are available.
A few extras are included. They are:
Behind the Scenes
At just under twenty three minutes, this features behind the scenes footage, and interviews with Mike Campbell, Leah Verrill, and most of the rest of the cast, as well as an introduction by director Todd Johnson. Mildly interesting.
Special Effects Featurette
At 6:57, this highlights various CGI shots and effects, but no narration is included to explain how they did it or any details. Disappointing.
Deleted Scenes Featurette
Almost nineteen minutes of deleted or extended scenes.
Promotional photos, stills, and some cool "missing person" style posters.
4 Dead Girls Trailer
This is a mediocre trailer for the feature.
Breaking Glass Trailers
Trailers are included here for As Night Falls, An American Ghost Story, K-11 and Screaming in High Heels.
4 Dead Girls seems to want to be a PG-13 exploitation film, tiptoeing up to the line of respectability and leaning over, but never taking the plunge. This despite the fact that it's an unrated film, and they could pretty much get away with whatever they want. This schizophrenia about what they were trying to do helped make the whole thing a muddle, and the numerous missteps and mediocre script finished the job. Sadly, this is not one to seek out.