Review: Soulmate

Soulmate is an interesting film, though a bit deceptive. If you are expecting a tense, suspenseful ghost story, you would be better served looking elsewhere. What Soulmate does offer is an interesting, though occasionally flawed, examination of loss and grief.

The film opens with the attempted suicide of Audrey (Anna Walton), a recently widowed woman consumed by grief over the loss of her husband. She is saved by a family member, and after being released from the hospital, decides to stow away to a remote house in Wales. She hopes that the solitude will help her to pick up the pieces and find herself again. But she isn’t in the house long before she begins hearing noises – footsteps and rustling in the locked third floor room lead her to believe someone may be living there in secret. A discussion with the landlords reveal the matter might not be that simple. The former owner of the house died under sudden circumstances many years ago, but the evidence at hand is indicating that he hasn’t left the house at all.
You would be expecting, at this point, that Audrey would embark on some sort of a mystery, perhaps trying to learn more about the spirit in question and finding some way to put him to rest – interspersed with all kinds of scenes of things going bump in the night in this isolated cottage. It’s a tried and true favorite among ghost stories, but Soulmate chooses a different route. It’s one of the things that makes it interesting, but is also one of its (acceptable) flaws.

What happens instead, is she makes contact with the spirit, Douglas (Tom Wisdom), a lost and lonely soul who has been stuck on Earth ever since his death. He grieves the loss of his own life, just as she grieves the loss of her husband’s. The two form a bond, and through this friendship, Audrey finally begins to confront her loss and work past her depression.

This is what sets Axelle Carolyn’s film apart from the standard ghost story. It offers both a venue for this character in mourning to open up her grief and to deal with it. It also offers a different take on the concept of a lost spirit. Rather than a wandering soul or a ghost trapped in the moment of their death for all eternity, it approaches the concept of a haunting through the lens of depression and loss.

Part of what sells this so well is the fantastic performance from Anna Walton. She inhabits this character perfectly, conveying her profound grief and sense of loss. Her performance lends the film a sense of emptiness, which, in turn, adds to the isolation and haunted atmosphere. Because even though this isn’t a scary story, it is absolutely the story of a haunting – but one that is more focused on Audrey and the circumstances of her life than on the house itself. Whatever lies within the walls of the cottage is nothing compared the the ghost of her husband, who, though unseen, hovers around her in an almost palpable fashion. She carries his memory with her and the pain that it gives her is tangible.

It doesn’t work 100% of the time; the film is centered around a solid premise, but unfortunately, it occasionally suffers from its low budget (particularly in the effects department) and isn’t as tight as it could be. A few scenes feel overly long and poorly paced, but they do little to derail the emotional resonance of the film. Despite its flaws, it is an interesting addition to horror cinema for the way it approaches ghosts and tries to shine a new light onto a well-told story.

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