4 Dead Girls: The Soul Taker (2012) – By Roger Carpenter

Lily, Pam, Lori, and Bianca are college chums who are excited to be renting their first home together after deciding to leave dorm life behind. They find a house that is too good to be true: the rent is cheap and the landlord is all too willing to accommodate their every need, like a fresh coat of paint inside, new curtains and bedding, and even new locks on the door to go along with the state-of-the-art alarm system. There has to be a catch, right?

It seems that the landlord is a demon who feeds on the souls of those who are evil. Bianca is a nympho who sleeps with her professors in order to get good grades. In the true spirit of a whore, she does it purely to satisfy her graduation requirements and derives no pleasure from the physical act, even complaining to herself about how gross the entire concept is. Nevertheless, she finds sleeping with her professors more tasteful than doing the actual homework. Pam and Lori are horny lesbians that can’t keep their hands off each other. Neither set of parents are happy with their life choices but they still plan on moving forward and getting married as soon as they graduate from college. Pam is particularly rebellious, lying and cheating on Lori at every turn, manipulating her, and emotionally torturing Lori’s sweet, virginal sister, Lily. Lily is the sole redeeming character of the four. She is white as the driven snow, wants to save her virginity for marriage, always finds the good in each situation, doesn’t curse, and even prays before each meal. In fact, if it wasn’t for the connection with her sister, Lily would have no reason to hang around with these morally corrupt girls. But other than occasional verbal abuse of Lily by Pam and frequent loud lovemaking by everyone but Lily, the four get along quite well, even with the creepy landlord, Devlin Chito lurking about. Little do the girls know that Devlin is actually a soul-sucking demon who preys on the souls of evil people. And along with his homemade voodoo dolls, he is intent on taking the souls of these girls.

The first half of the film sets up just how impure Pam, Lori, and Bianca are while at the same time presenting Lily as the single virtuous person in the group. There are plenty of sexual situations–though, remarkably, infuriatingly little nudity–as well as lots of mean-spirited attacks on each other. In fact, none of these characters are very likeable, including Lily who is portrayed as so pure as to be totally annoying. The second half of the film is ostensibly a cat-and-mouse chase between Devlin and the girls as the soul-sucker tracks his prey relentlessly through the darkened and magically-secured house until, you guessed it, only one girl is left alive. And if, by this point in the review, you haven’t figured out who survives, then you should be doomed to watch this film.

4 Dead Girls is a technically proficient film. The cinematography and lighting are good, though some of the scenes occurring in the dark are a bit murky, and the musical score serves its purpose admirably. A special mention of the end credits song, "Show Me Yours", performed by Rebels Rising should be made. It is a great little song and a high point of this otherwise pointless exercise in film.

Although the film is technically good, the story is weak and the acting is perhaps weaker. It is filled with several plot holes, includgin the fact that this demon is apparently sensitive to light but Devlin has no problem walking around in the daytime with no special precautions. Mike Campbell as Devlin is a low point as he wanders around trying to be mysterious and creepy (he indeed comes off creepy, but more like a pedophile than a demon). His "demonic" garb is simply a black robe and hood which comes off as hokey instead of scary. Each of the four girls compete for the Most Irritating Award, and each makes an excellent case for winning said award. None of the characters are remotely likable with virginal Lily (Katherine Browning) being so nice as to be quite annoying and Pam (Leah Verrill) being so condescending as to be highly irritating. Another major misstep is the indecision on the part of the writers and director on whether to make a full-on horror movie or a comedy. Leah Verrill’s character of Pam is the victim of this indecision and is given some of the most heinous lines and unrealistic situational reactions in film history. Just one example is her inexplicable reaction to eat as much food from the refrigerator as possible so it doesn’t go to waste when she discovers they will likely be killed before morning. The others are desperately seeking a way out while Pam heads to the kitchen to stuff her face. Unfortunately, it isn’t for long and the viewer is again subjected to her annoying whines and nitwit exclamations.

Perhaps I’m getting old, but I also was a bit offended by what I found to be the obvious sexism and homophobia in the film. Each of the three girls to die do so for their "sins": promiscuity and homosexuality. In this enlightened age I would hope that we wouldn’t be so close-minded as to offer only these "sins" as worthy of death. It’s films like these that make the argument for the horror movie haters. Or maybe I’m just giving too much credit to these filmmakers; it’s likely they didn’t give much thought to any underlying commentary.

Overall, I found 4 Dead Girls to be a rehash of a thousand other films, many of them much better than this one. Annoying characters, weak acting, and a poor story doom this one from the beginning. However, if you are brave enough, Vicious Circle Films is releasing the DVD in time for Halloween, on October 8. For more information, see www.breakingglasspictures.com.