Column written by David Garrett
- Film: Sweet Taste of Souls
- Year: 2020
- Director: Terry Ross
- Writer: F. Scott Mudgett
- Starring: Honey Lauren, Sarah J. Bartholomew and Amber Gaston
This was another movie that Jenna Wilen from DarkCoast sent me the screener to check out ahead of its release. I thought it had a cool title and the little bit I looked into intrigued me. I did watch part of the trailer to just decide if I wanted to check it out or not as on the whole, I tend to avoid them. The synopsis here is when four struggling band members stop at a lonely roadside café for a slice of pie. They find themselves imprisoned in the deranged owner’s bizarre art collection.
We start this movie off in the bakery of Ellinore (Honey Lauren). She is feeding her cat and something frustrates her with her pies. I got the idea here that there’s something off about her when she is cutting them with a butcher’s knife. She sees there is something wrong with them. Something happens here where Tucker (Jessie LeNoir) appears and flees out of the door.
The movie then gives us the group we follow. There’s Kyle (Mark Valeriano) who is driving the van and it appears he’s the lead singer. His brother of Nate (John Salandria) is in the back. Up front with Kyle is his girlfriend of Wendy (Amber Gaston). They picked up another woman of Lily (Sarah J. Bartholomew) from a bus stop previously. Nate has taken a liking to her and she is getting under Kyle’s skin. They stop and the two guys get into at scuffle before burying the hatchet. They also get spooked by Tucker who then disappears and is back in a picture. Kyle tells them he needs food due to his low blood sugar.
He stops off at Ellie’s Kountry Kitchen. She tells them the kitchen is closed, but Kyle sweet talks her into at least giving them pie. While she is going to get it, they look around at the picture on the wall. What they see is odd, especially since she’s supposed to be a ‘world renowned’ photographer according to a plaque. We see that she’s taking pictures of them through secret holes in the wall. Ellinore freaks out on them and they flee from the restaurant.
We see what power she actually has. Ellinore prints off their pictures and they all disappear from their van. She was sick of people in one of the pictures she has. We get to see her execute them with her bathtub. Our group is now in this surf competition picture. They can’t get out of their new prison. She is also hearing voices that are either from her head or coming from her stuffed bird. This poor woman had past issues that weren’t resolved, bringing her to where she is now.
There are rumors and a lot of disappearances in the area. Sid (Frank Papia) listens over a police scanner as his daughter went missing, Chrissa (Samantha Larson). He is working with Barney (Thom Michael Mulligan) to figure out what happened. It brings these two to Ellie’s restaurant and the darkness within.
That’s where I want to leave my recap, but I do want to delve a bit to start off the analysis with the concept of the woman without going into spoilers. Ellinore had an abusive husband of Patrick (Scott Alin). We get to see this play out a bit later in the movie, but I feel this is important to give here. Tucker tries telling her, he isn’t her husband. Everyone in town knows he ‘ran off’ and they don’t necessarily get why. What I will say, Patrick was a bad guy.
Due to her being broken as a woman, this voice we’re hearing is the entity that is talked about in the synopsis. In her weakened state and needing someone, it has stepped in. What is interesting though, it does seem to build her up while also doing things to get her riled up. These are all things that have me on board for what the movie was doing. My issue then becomes, what is the power it gives to her?
Ellinore is a great baker from everything that we get from anyone who eats the pies she makes. The title is a great play on it, but I think the movie misses an opportunity to really capitalize on that fully. It really is only there to get people in the door for the entity to tell her to do something to them. I think it’s a waste of a good title by having her use the photograph to trap them and that’s the end of it. We learn that time stands still for those inside of these pictures. The entity behind the power can also tell her things of their history, but I don’t see what the entity gets out of it. From how I take it, it is feeding off the hatred within Ellinore. I just feel it should be more with her actual talent or something darker to happen to those trapped.
I also think the movie takes a bit too long to actually reveal there is a dark entity behind this. I was questioning through most of it why does she have this power? I’m actually fine with it not being explained. What we do get though is interesting to me. I love when you have something like we get here that feeds off the depression and sadness of a character. Depressing is a pretty common thing with many individuals so it is easy to find and can also transfer in much the same way as well.
What doesn’t work here is the CGI. The look of the entity looks like something from the 2000s and I was disappointed. There really wasn’t any CGI that looked good in the movie to be honest. The limit of the power it gives doesn’t seem to be defined either. I liked the look of people stuck in the pictures, but it doesn’t look like enough interest was really taken into it. There are also some plot-holes or things that come from it that just don’t fit for me either. The cinematography is fine though, so I will give credit there.
Something else that didn’t really work was the acting. Lauren I think plays this unstable woman well. I feel bad for her, but the movie really doesn’t do a lot to flesh her out to be truly tragic. I also think she should have someone recast as the younger version of her or to do more to make her look younger. Bartholomew is okay. She has an interesting look and we get a bit of her back-story that fits the brooding character she is. Gaston, Valeriano and Salandria are all fine as well. There’s just too much overacting in the movie that was quite noticeable for me. Also some of the back-stories given go no where and left me scratching my head.
This is another one that I feel bad for not liking more. There were some concepts and ideas that were introduced, but for whatever reason, the direction the movie goes is away from them. I like the idea of this entity and what it feeds on. It would be better served though to stick with her actual talents with what the title of the movie is and not to go the route they did. The acting is pretty mediocre and the effects went mostly CGI where they just don’t hold up. The soundtrack from what I remember was fine, but it also didn’t necessarily stand out. This is another one is well below average for me and I can’t recommend giving it a viewing. There are some good things here, just not enough to save it.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 10