The Soul Eater

It is an unconventional first encounter, Gendarme Franck de Rolan forced to hitch-hike to get to the remote village of Roquenoir, once a spa town but now struggling to stay afloat, the woman who gives him a lift after considerable persuasion heading the same way for almost the same reason; withholding her identity as Detective Elizabeth Guardiano until arrival at the crime scene, she is investigating a double homicide, the Vasseurs having apparently killed each other in a frenzied attack, while Rolan is interested in the wellbeing of their son.

Conducting an ongoing investigation into several missing children in the region over the previous months, the Vasseurs owning a van matching the description of one identified as suspicious, Evan Vasseur is found physically safe but understandably traumatised, his Doctor Carole Marbas reticent to allow him to be questioned but Rolan persisting, hearing a story of “the soul eater,” a folk tale known to all the locals but which the terrified child believes is real.

A French mystery thriller directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, the duo who sank The Deep House, they now unleash The Soul Eater (Le Mangeur d’Âmes), described as “the devourer, the swallower of innocence,” represented by a horned totem found by the bloody bodies of the Vasseurs then a second identical carving found by the next victim, the owner of the sawmill who threw himself into the bandsaw.

Guardiano (8 Women‘s Virginie Ledoyen) firm in her regard that the two cases are separate investigations, insistent that she does not want any interference or crossover with Rolan (The Ornithologist‘s Paul Hamy), he is a man who runs himself to exhaustion to burn out his rage at the slow progression, the investigation not helped by the mayor who wishes matters resolved swiftly to avoid adverse publicity and Doctor Marbas (Sandrine Bonnaire) withholding relevant background on the families.

With its UK premiere at FrightFest at the Glasgow Film Festival, The Soul Eater recalls The Crimson Rivers, set in an otherwise sleepy village where the houses nestle against the mountainside and the trees vanish into the mist, concealing unknown horrors, with more than a dash of The Crazies in the random acts of bloody violence which have no apparent connection.

The abstract becoming real as the investigation keeps returning to the Soul Eater, a shadow which hangs over Roquenoir which Evan (Cameron Bain) is convinced that he has seen in person, there are some awkward contrivances required in Annelyse Batrel and Ludovic Lefebvre’s script but the atmosphere and performances maintain the momentum to create a twisted trip through the forest to the secrets behind the locked red door.

The Glasgow Film Festival concluded on Sunday 10th March



Show Buttons
Hide Buttons