Brain Damage Films presents director and writer Chase Smith’s (who is known for Perdition (2012) and the anticipated Creature Feature (2015) Realm of Souls a found footage genre film which mixes with the slasher and supernatural genre quite imaginatively well for an independent film, on an extremely low-budget platform. The movie presents a group of filmmakers setting out to investigate 13 (of course an eerie number) haunted locations in Georgia all gathered for a next horror film, under the banner of Spirit World Productions (a real company owned by Chase Smith). This plot setup sounds wonderfully refreshing for the genre and occasionally floats into the narrative horror course to bring thrills to all viewers.
Chase and his group of friends and amateur ghost hunters, though quite knowledgeable, set out on the journey to investigate locations the first coming at the true site, Georgia Guidestones. While a few of the team clown around, others take a serious look into their design and existence swirls around the dialogue. For those unaware of the object, six very tall and large granite stone encircle a pillar with a capstone, the speculation and rumors run amok, though less about supernatural forces and more of a religious icon. The stories surrounding it range from New World Order conspiracies to occultism, but the documentary style works itself well for the first location. As for the second, a spot called “The Devil’s Circle” and referred by a street sign Devil’s Tramping Ground, exists deep in the woods and nothing grows or lives in the circle, but staying in it can summon the devil. It is here that the group vanishes and loses contact with the company and Chase’s brother, Lance; herein, more complicated and muddles the plot of the story and confuses many viewers for the second group heads out to the circle and finds numerous cameras and create a makeshift editing station. This process reveals what occurred with the first group and his brother, the mysterious supernatural forces at work, and rather than wait for daylight or get authorities, the honorable and perhaps noble effort to advance to the darkness the search. Lance convinces the group to search the area at night, and battle supernatural forces, the switching back and forth of group one’s and two’s footage begins to wear on the viewers to a great deal. The convincing arguments seem a tad too easy, the opposition vastly too weak, to counterpoint his arguments, though note, this sequence actually occurs twice with Lance’s group, which defies all logic. This point pivots the films from found footage to horror narrative with the slasher scenes of great bloodshed and through the supernatural forces, clever in the formula to conjure nightmarish images.
The second group as well as the first work very well in a consistent method and without a major stumbling block, mainly due to reasons many had worked with Chase before, on his film Perdition such as Zoe Myers (Tess), Jon Bailey (Liam), and others joined the cast of Creature Feature. However, an issue arises with the chaos for the audience, trying to differentiate between the two groups, as the characters similarities blend together as if off an assembly line, a half dozen camera all types, in various positions at the same time, swallows the viewers into a bottomless pit. The second half of the film has excellent cinematography and established shots with the usage of steady editing and pacing, which progressively brings development of structure to a narrative horror movie leaving behind the commonly used sight through video camera, wobbly images with jostled broken images.
Aside from the found footage aspects all studios and filmmakers in general hunt for the holy grail of financial rewards from The Blair Witch Project (1999), this film does a great job of mixing the supernatural slasher genres into the screenplay. Chase provides suspense stalking, a jump scene or two, a tip of the hat to some raunchy T&A and then some creepy gore moments for the fans to enjoy. Therefore, seeking a road-tripping event to actual movie locations, then Realm of Souls, captures the interests and unknown whereabouts to unseal locations, shall one of you venture to them next?
This review originally was published in February of 2015 on the Rogue Cinema site with a view count of 1,773.
IMDb Rating: 4.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10