Wrath of Souls - New Release Review
Director: Ilanthirayan Alan Arumugam
Starring: Kabir Singh, Richard Huggett, Marco Sinigaglia, Oozie Devrish, Tahlia Jade Holt
Written by: Ilanthirayan Alan Arumugam, Charles Benedict, Mukund Ramaman
Produced by: Kanesh Mohan Sundaram, Vinod Mohan Sudnaram
Cinematography by: Damien Beebe
Original Score by: Jason Fernandez
A neighbourhood is plagued by mysterious tragedies when a young man becomes the conduit for an unknown spirit, the 'AIYAI' which lures victims to their chilling fates.
Starting ominously with a John Carpenter-esque 'The Thing' musical motif, 'Wrath of Souls' begins in the middle by showing protagonist Kiran (Kabir Singh) being taken out of a cemetery building in a mysterious trance with police and paramedics on scene. Albert Fisher, the cemetery director, arrives and is immediately interviewed by authorities and then we cut back to when Kiran first meets Albert and his co-worker Darren.
Kiran has been hired by Albert to help run the cemetery and assist Darren in carrying out day to day maintenance. It's a relatively mundane job that doesn't require a high IQ but a lot of work ethic and Kiran certainly has an abundance of work ethic. He's actually working two jobs to help pay for his education and he just wants to get by quietly.
While his boss Albert seems to be a decent guy, his "other" boss Darren gives off a weird vibe straight away and during a social get together Darren gives Kiran a hard time for not wanting to drink alcohol with them, which ultimately puts everyone in an awkward situation despite Albert trying his best to brush it off as just a bit of banter.
Things get worse for Kiran when he witnesses two men, Tom and Willy, attacking a woman on his way home from work one evening. He intervenes but ends up taking a beating. We had seen these two men earlier harassing the woman, who is actually one of their drug dealers, and Tom, the obvious leader of the two slaps her about and treats her like a piece of shit. Don't worry Kiran will get his revenge later on.
After a break-in at the cemetery Kiran becomes possessed by a supernatural entity that moves around in the form of ash. Darren has been "murdered" and it's this break-in and death that the police we see at the beginning of the film are investigating. The details surrounding this incident are very vague and the film doesn't really do a good job at creating any sort of explanation of even a red herring to keep the plot flowing in an interesting way. After Kiran has another altercation with the two men from before and Tom turns up hanging from a tree in the cemetery gardens, we are just supposed to believe that a possessed Kiran may be responsible for this crime. We then find out that Albert has a connection with Tom and Willy and that there's a curse hanging over the cemetery building.
There's about 33 minutes of set-up before anything of relevance happens and the set-up is not very engaging. It's clearly working on a small budget and the effects are decent but sadly there's nothing very memorable about the film and although it looks and sounds pretty good, a lot of the shots are a bit generic. From a technical perspective it doesn't really do anything wrong but I think it would have benefitted greatly with heavy editing structurally. The performances are bit all over the place too with some being wildly exaggerated and others being very wooden. Tahlia Jade Holt is impressive as the grieving girlfriend and Richard Huggett as Albert has his moments too.
'Wrath of Souls' killed 90 minutes of my day but unfortunately it's not a film I'll probably ever think about again. There's hardly any real scares and almost zero tension to build on. There's a nice dinner scene involving noodles and worms and another sequence later on involving the creature's silhouette that is quite impressive, but other than that nothing sticks out in my mind.
- Gavin Logan
Bulldog Film Distribution presents 'Wrath of Souls' on VOD 29th May