The dirty little secret of ‘low budget’ horror is that, despite the fact that some small studio or tiny group of investors ponied up a decent amount of cash to peddle the flick to audiences, there may (and I do mean “may”) be some redeeming qualities to it. It might have some legitimate scares. It could even have some spiffy but practical make-up and effects. If you’re lucky, then it should be blessed with a modest amount of nice acting – nothing grand, but just enough to show that the actors and actresses really put their heart into it, knowing that you’d at least have the spirit to make it to the very end.
Then, there’s ‘no budget’ horror, and 4 Dead Girls: The Soul Taker falls (sadly) into that category. No matter how much effort any of the ladies put into this affair, it’s just way too hard to ratchet up any real thrills, chills, or spills when you’re filming in a house with, basically, three rooms.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Lily (played with modest if not mousy conviction by Katherine Browning) and her three roomies are looking for a dream place: a fully-furnished off-campus house where they can go to eat, sleep, and (cough) bang. What they don’t realize is that the man-of-their-dreams’ landlord is none other than a Nalusa Chito – a soul taker – who’s bent on munching on the very essence of all their beings before the first night together is over.
Had the writers and/or producers done even a modest amount of research, they would’ve realized that the name ‘Soultaker’ was already reserved for a no-budget stinker from the 80’s and maybe they would’ve gone in another direction so far as the film’s working name is concerned. I mean … why would you want anyone to harken back to that film, wretched that it may be? In fact, the original ‘Soultaker’ was lampooned by the likes of MST3K, so why would you even risk that association. The best I can surmise is that perhaps they hoped in some bizarre way to piggyback on someone else’s success (or lack thereof), and they kept “The Soul Taker” as part of their name.
Also, how bad does a film have to be in order to pony up four beautiful girls on the product packaging … with none of them actually being in the flick? Clearly, there’s more than a fair amount of subterfuge going on here, and if you don’t know the meaning of subterfuge then maybe 4 DEAD GIRLS is right up your alley.
Try as they might, these girls – they’re so generic I won’t trouble you with their specifics, and maybe they’ll be happy when this release is lost to history, too – can’t muster any real sense of dread; without that, horror films of the stalker variety are doomed to fail. When your master villain delivers every line apparently under the influence of sleeping aids, you know something’s missing. Still, the script tried to tweak each character just enough to give ‘em something more to do that scream and look pretty – for my tastes, they should’ve stuck with the former ‘cause they didn’t have much chance with the latter.
4 Dead Girls: The Soul Taker (aka The Rental) is produced by 3 Roses Entertainment. DVD distribution is being handled by Breaking Glass Pictures. As for the technical specifications, the best I can say is that both the audio and video are here; it’s certainly not an accomplished job because, in most cases, the girls’ screams are modulated louder than the soul taker’s menacing speeches, leaving the audience with little idea of what the man’s saying. Must’ve been scary, though, if these girls are any indication. To the disc’s credit, there are a handful of extras – cast interviews, some deleted scenes, and a short feature on the special effects – but I wasn’t all that interested in knowing more about this mess.
Not really recommended.
It’s hard to even give it a modest thumbs up. Who knows? Some might enjoy it more than I did, but, then again, I’ve heard some people like root canals, too. I don’t.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Breaking Glass Pictures provided me with a DVD copy of 4 Dead Girls: The Soul Taker by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.