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By Joe Langham
Soulmate is the feature length debut from Axelle Carolyn. Presented by Neil Marshall, director of the brilliant cult film ‘Dog Soldiers’, Soulmate tells the story of Audrey who has retreated to a fairly isolated Welsh cottage after suffering a personal tragedy. The cottage has a history and a mysterious locked box room from which strange noises come at night. As Audrey seeks to overcome her own grief, she begins to unlock the mysteries enclosed within the cottage and subsequently unravel the grief that shrouds it. The film stars Anna Walton as Audrey and Tom Wisdom as Douglas.
Soulmate is a slow burning and atmospheric film with rich and interesting characters. It has the feel of various films and genres including the chilling classic ‘The Shining’, ‘The Woman in Black’ and classic Gothic horror with a lacing of romance.
At times some of the performances do not do the script justice and can be fairly bland and matter of fact; however films of this type are not generally renowned for their Oscar worthy acting. Anna Walton as Audrey is rather peaks and troughs, but the stand out performance is Tom Wisdom as Douglas. Douglas is a tortured soul and Wisdom plays him brilliantly with an honest and powerful performance.
However, the story is the focal point in Soulmate. Carolyn’s film is wholly story driven with some rich and interesting characters. They are a welcome change from those in similar films, which generally have about as much character as a puddle.
The film is also visually beautiful and the Brecon setting is lovely to look at. Carolyn manages to capture an eerie stillness in the natural setting. The films atmosphere is heightened even more by both the voyeuristic shots which litter the film and the chilling sound of the violin, a haunting sound at the best of times but even more so in the isolated setting.
It does, however, feel as though there is something missing, like a punch has been pulled, and that is because there is. The BBFC deemed the original opening scene too much for this eerie film and thus have dulled the impact of the film. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that rings true here as Audrey’s back-story is only mentioned in conversation during the film and does not have the projected impact that it would had the full edit been passed. It’s a bit like starting a book on chapter two, but only because the reader before you thought chapter one was not suitable and decided to tear it out. For your own benefit of course.
Soulmate is by no means an amazing film but neither is it a bad one. Its bad points do not detract from its good points and overall it is an enjoyable watch. It offers a refreshing take on worn out haunted house/supernatural movies and is a welcome change from the other lame and repetitive films in similar veins. Axelle Carolyn, unsurprising considering her previous written work, also shows promising writing and directing prowess and her future projects are something to look forward too.
Included on the DVD are a director’s commentary along with FrightFest interviews with Anna Walton, Axelle Carolyn and Neil Marshall. There are also two short films: The Last Post and The Halloween Kid. The Halloween Kid is a spooky story about a kid called Henry, a bit of an outcast on every day of the year apart from one: Halloween. It has the feel of something from Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids. The Last Post is a ghost story about unfulfilled and lingering love, a similar field to the main feature.
Check out the trailer for Soulmate below