An old man, fated to collect souls for eternity, seeks atonement after trading his daughter’s soul in this feature film debut by South African writer-director by Harold Hölscher.
The bankrupt William Zeil returns with his new wife, Sarah, and adopted daughter, Mary, to the family farm he inherited from his estranged father, with the hopes of starting a new life. Lazarus (the incredible Tshamano Sebe), the farmhand who took care of William’s father in his lonely, final hours, assists them in settling into their new, rural surroundings.
Despite Sarah’s misgivings, Young Mary and the elderly, but spry Lazarus quickly develop a bond as kindred spirits, and William finds a “connection” to his later father through the mysterious, but charming old man. But Lazarus carries a burdensome, dark secret with him, literally, everywhere he goes: a demon child with its insatiable appetite for human souls. And the family soon discovers they should have heeded the local’s weariness of Lazarus’s return from wandering afar.
This moody, supernatural exploration of South African folklore — originally known as 8 in its homeland — with a Blumhouse-level of production quality on par with the likes of Get Out and Ma — is rife with gialloesque insect metaphors regarding eternal life and man’s relationship to nature with it’s talk about moths and worms — and carries a J-Horror vibe of the tales of Toshio (Ju-On, aka The Grudge) and Sadako (Ringu, aka The Ring). The film comes with the occasional subtitles when the local, indigenous peoples speak their native tongue, which may turn off the few; but the production values, cinematography, and acting in this non-Hollywood jump-scares cookie cutter on a budget are expertly crafted and more than compensates for the subtitling.
The Soul Collector is via TriCoast Worldwide and Rock Salt Releasing is coming soon to select theaters, digital and On Demand platforms courtesy of Scream Factory. You can learn more about the film at 8themovie.com.
Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.