The film opens with an older man on his death bed. With his final breath, he sees another man by his side, and instantly the old man in his bed passes away while the stranger walks away. On the flip side, the film introduces us to a family which consists of William (Garth Breytenbach), his wife Sarah (Inge Beckmann) and their adopted daughter Mary (Keita Luna). The family are driving back to William’s family farm to attempt to start a new life.
As they begin to settle in and restore the farm, young Mary meets a man in the woods named Lazarus. While Lazarus seems mysterious, he appears to be friendly towards Mary and soon meets her parents. Lazarus reveals that he used to work on the family farm a long time ago and offers his services, including fixing the generator which provides power to the house. While William and Mary see no harm in accepting the extra help, Sarah is not convinced on the stranger’s intentions.
But little does this family know, the older man who calls himself Lazarus is a soul collector and is capable of speaking to the dead. Lazarus made an ultimate deal with the devil in a desperate attempt to save his daughter’s life and soul after a tragic house fire. An agreement was made, but unfortunately for Lazarus the deal he made was too late, and his daughter died. Now Lazarus roams the lands as he wrestles with his past and his inner demons are hungry for souls.
The film’s opening feels relatively slow mostly because nothing made sense to begin with. I’m proud to say after sticking with this film, it pays off significantly. I found this film hooked me in quite quickly as I was eager to understand more about Lazarus and ultimately, what path he will take when it comes to this new innocent family.
Another element that surprised me is that this film is a directional debut by Harold Holscher. As a film debut, I am impressed by the results. The Soul Collector delivers something different and something quite mysterious, which held my investment right till the end. It’s also shot well, even during quite dark scenes. And, most importantly, the sound design is also quite impacting and powerful for those that love using their home cinema and surround sound.
As for negatives, I only have a few nitpicks with a release like this. The film’s opening, while being mysterious, takes risks in regards to its pacing, and I would imagine some watching the movie may check out quickly rather than having the patience to let the story reveal all the details. While the film is classed as a horror, the film relies on good old jump scares which personally didn’t deliver any real suspense. For some viewers, these jump scares could be effective. The film’s ending did bring me slight disappointment as some elements are entirely unclear and may offer a different view depending on the interpretation of the audience member. For me, the weaker ending was a significant factor as I enjoyed everything that was being built up towards it.
Overall, as a directional debut, I am genuinely impressed by this film. It’s quite mysterious, and I enjoyed how dark this film was. Performances are pleasing, particularly from actor Tshamano Sebe who plays The Soul Collector named Lazarus. Visually, this film is also pleasing and carries an impressive audio track. The movie exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to the director’s next film, which I’ll gladly support in advance. The Soul Collector is easy to recommend for those seeking a new style of horror film.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden