Lost Souls

  • Review Date: July 7, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2002

Common Sense Media says

Teenage horror fans can do much better.
  • Review Date: July 7, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2002





What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Some blood and gore but mild by horror movie standards. Creepy hallucination sequences could spook sensitive viewers.


A character is revealed to be the product of an incestuous relationship.


Some strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

As in too many of her movies, Winona Ryder smokes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, unlike the gruesome slasher and monster movies that dominate the field, this one seeks to scare viewers by tapping into our religious upbringing, both personal and cultural. With a relatively realistic tone, the movie argues that the Devil is a real force in the world. Scientific reasoning and humanism are seen as being in opposition, at least in certain circumstances, to religious faith.

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What's the story?

Maya Larkin (Winona Ryder), who as a child had been possessed, helps Father Lareaux (John Hurt) and John Townshend (Elias Koteas) perform exorcisms. When on the case of mass murderer Henry Birdsong (John Diehl), Maya meets Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin) a skeptical journalist. While attempting the exorcism on Birdsong, he claims that Satan will return. Maya soon becomes convinced that Kelson will be the devil's next victim.

Is it any good?


Like The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, and The Omen all rolled into one, LOST SOULS covers a lot of familiar territory in a popular genre. Unlike the gruesome slasher and monster movies that dominate the field, it seeks to scare viewers by tapping into our religious upbringing, both personal and cultural. Like other relatively earnest movies about God and the Devil, this ones runs a double danger: Christian viewers may feel exploited or belittled, while others may feel it gives too much credence to religion and the struggle between good and evil. The filmmakers certainly aren't trying to argue that the threat of an antichrist is real, but they aren't going for cheap shocks or gross-outs either. In other words, the movie wants viewers to take it somewhat seriously.

The atmosphere is wonderfully spooky, wringing a real sense of dread out of Manhattan locations. But the premise eventually runs out of steam, getting sillier as it does. The finale is so anti-climactic that audiences are certain to be disappointed. As one seventeen-year-old horror buff noted, it almost looks like they ran out of money and just decided to end it. His girlfriend also didn't find the movie scary enough, though she felt Winona Ryder (the reason she wanted to see the movie) gave a better performance than in her earlier horror efforts, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Alien 3.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes this movie scary. Why are people drawn to scary/gory movies in the first place? What is it about people that makes us like to be scared?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 4, 2002
DVD release date:February 4, 2002
Cast:Ben Chaplin, John Hurt, Winona Ryder
Director:Janusz Kaminski
Studio:New Line
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, terror, and some language

This review of Lost Souls was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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