Who doesn't love a good slice of sweet cherry pie? Well, I suppose diabetics make that list, but so do four struggling band members making their way half way across a country for a gig. That may seem oddly specific, but it will all make sense shortly. Sweet Taste of Souls from TriCoast and DarkCoast, directed by Terry Ross comes to us on VOD in just a few weeks, and I got the chance to bring you an early review.
One of the best parts about this time of year (Halloween) is all new releases being sent out into the world. Some are massive big budget flicks the like of Halloween and Candyman, but thanks to the ongoing pandemic, those are being pushed off until next year. The others are smaller releases, the straight to VOD films that can help scratch that horror itch, and that's what DarkCoast has been bringing us lately. That is what Sweet Taste of Souls is, a small, quirky, and interesting horror film that should garner your attention.
What starts out as four young adults, bandmates, traveling cross country for a music gig turns into something much more sinister, naturally; it's a horror movie. The group is dysfunctional, and it does a good job exploring their backgrounds, and explaining why they have the personality traits that they do. We have Nate (John Salandria) as the sort of dorky pushover; Kyle (Mark Valeriano) as the obnoxious failed football star and bully; Wendy (Amber Gaston) who appears to be the kind one, but has a vicious side to her; and lastly we have the loner, the outcast, and the only one who doesn't seem to have a past connection to the group in Lily (Sarah J. Bartholomew).
While driving through a small town, the group, somewhat reluctantly, stops for some food. They find the only place in town, which is closed, but that's never stopped Kyle before, and go on in. Maybe it was their attitude, maybe it was just the wrong time and the wrong place, but that's where we meet Ellinore (Honey Lauren). Ellinore owns this small eatery, and also fancies herself a bit of a photographer - oh, and she's a bit unhinged. After some persuading, she agrees to get the group a pie for the road. While she's off, the group wanders the restaurant alone, or so they thought. Ellinore secretly takes some photos of them, which we soon finds out captures their souls!
The film plays out with rather good pacing and character building, establishing their relationships and backgrounds without using too much exposition, which allows you to relate to them a little bit more. Ellinore, on the other hand, is an interesting case - she seems, on the surface as a kind, but damaged individual, with her past trauma's playing a role in some sort of Son of Sam psychosis. She's certainly a strange character, which adds to a different and original premise.
There is a certain feel to the movie as well - it doesn't ever really feel uncomfortable or overly
scary, with some scenes coming off a bit silly - however I can't quite put my finger on it. At times I felt the whole thing could go in an entirely different direction and turn into a Hallmark or Lifetime movie, where Ellinore is trying to win a pie baking contest in order to catch the man of her dreams. Thankfully, it doesn't take that turn, instead it goes in the complete opposite direction with a bit of a twist in the end, which you may or may not see coming.
One thing I would like to mention is that the film felt safe. What I mean by that is given the story and the content, it could have been more. Maybe another risk or two taken, but everything from the story, even though it was original, to the cinematography just felt safe, which is hard to fault from an outside perspective. Looking in on the movie, there's nothing at all wrong with it. In fact it's pretty fun and quite entertaining (especially the third act), but I feel it could have taken more of a risk, maybe some more creative shots, or adding a bit of atmosphere in post.
Nevertheless, Sweet Taste of Souls is a solid outing, and certainly worth a watch on a weekend evening, which you can do on all sorts of streaming services come November 1st.