If you’re a regular consumer of my work, you will know how much I love me some understated ghost story action, particularly if it’s British. So while randomly scrolling through the horror movie section of some streaming service long ago, I happened to come across Soulmate (2013), which from the brief description sounded right up my alley. I didn’t read any of the reviews before starting it, just clicked play and sat back. In brief, the movie is the story of a violinist named Audrey, who has attempted suicide after the death of her beloved husband. She survives, but feels the need to be alone so she can move on from the tragedy. Without telling her family where she is going, she checks herself out of the hospital and rents a cottage in a remote Welsh village. The cottage, obviously, turns out to be haunted, and there are some intriguing secrets waiting to be discovered about the other townsfolk that tie in with the man who is haunting Audrey’s cottage, as well as some mysteries surrounding the ghost’s motives.
First off, I loved this movie, but it is definitely NOT for everyone. Matter of fact, I don’t know if I would really call it a horror movie per se; it has some creepy moments and eerie imagery, but it’s more like a gothic romance or a spooky character study than a horror film. I want to say it’s like a low-key mashup of The Woman In Black, The Others, and Truly, Madly, Deeply. The acting is fantastic, and the cinematography is gloomily stunning, but keep in mind that the pace of this thing is glacially slow, and even though I was intrigued by the story and stayed with it no problem, I can see how people might get impatient or bored, because it does take a while to get where it’s going.
The whole interaction between Audrey and the ghost might also be a dealbreaker for some viewers, depending on how absurd (or not) you find the situation she finds herself in. Personally, like I said, I took it in the same vein as Truly, Madly, Deeply, which I adored, but your mileage may vary. Overall, I found this a really lovely piece of cinema, and I’m actually really glad I stumbled across it. Seems a bit hard to get hold of nowadays, unfortunately.
Next up on my ghostly double feature was another ghost story, this one set in New England instead of old. The Legend of Lucy Keyes (2005) starred Julie Delpy and Justin Theroux as a city couple who move to a small town in Massachusetts when hubby is offered work on a project building a wind farm near Wachusett Mountain. This film is actually based on the real legend of four-year-old Lucy Keyes, who disappeared in the nearby woods in 1755, and the subsequent haunting of the area by her mother Martha, who to this day can allegedly be heard calling for her lost daughter in the forest. Significantly, the city couple in the movie also have a daughter named Lucy (as well as another one named Molly, but she doesn’t factor into the story too much), and things start to get increasingly ghostly from there. If you know the legend, you won’t be surprised by the outcome of the movie, but since I hadn’t heard the story before, I enjoyed following along as the mystery was solved.
Gotta say, I didn’t like this one nearly as much as Soulmate, but it was actually a decent enough way to spend two hours. Its production aesthetic was obviously not remotely in the same league as the first film, and in fact reminded me at times of a Lifetime made-for-TV type movie. The acting was fine (though the chemistry between the two leads was rather off, so much so that I was having a hard time believing they were supposed to be a loving married couple), and the little girl playing Lucy was actually pretty adorable (and that’s coming from someone who generally can’t stand child actors or children in general). The plot was suspenseful enough to keep me interested, though it did telegraph the mystery a tad. The ghost effects were a bit cheesy, and some of the “villain” characters (especially Brooke Adams as Samantha) were teetering on the edge of cartoonishly evil, but overall, not bad. This isn’t a film I would necessarily go out of my way to watch, but if you’re into New England-style ghost stories and are bored out of your skull one day, you could certainly do a lot worse.