SWEET TASTE OF SOULS ** USA 2020 Dir: Terry Ross. 99 mins
SWEET TASTE OF SOULS falls into the category of a novice genre film. There are novice pictures are non- threatening, glossy and have situations within the story that have been done better. That being said, novice film is a great way to enter the genre or safely watch with an older person or younger without fear of surprising images to shock them.
SWEET TASTE OF SOULS has an intriguing title plus an interesting opening credit sequence that is clearly aimed at the market of those that read R. L. Stine’s books or something in that vein. Not all people want to be bludgeoned with sinister goings on.
The story is four bandmates Nate (John Salandria), Kyle (Mark Valeriano), Wendy (Amber Gaston) and Lily (Sarah J. Bartholomew) in a van on a tour of sorts. They stop by a cafe. The café is staffed by Ellinore (Honey Lauren). The band members are hungry and when they are told no food on the menu is available, they ask for pie, a specialty. They don’t get far down the road before a disagreement breaks out between friends Nate and Kyle. Kyle wants Nate to hit him back but it doesn’t happen. The women watch in disgust.
Kyle suddenly disappears after the altercation ends, followed by the others. They all re-appear inside a photo frame on the wall of the cafe with Ellinore laughing at them through the glass. Other people in frames on the walls come to life with additional captured men and women who hold poses when confronted by those outside looking in. The story is of their attempts to escape.
One learns of the power that Ellinore has in her camera and her sordid abused past, which comes back to haunt her. Honey Lauren in the role of Ellinore is a combination of erotic sexuality and evil Gorgon (minus the snakes). She uses her physical beauty to trap and influence males. Lily (Sarah J. Bartholomew), like Ellinore, is provocatively attired in a short outfit with the right amount of stereotypical torn stockings. She is the sensitive, rebellious lyric writer and Nate is trying to be her boyfriend. You get a sense of the market this picture is aimed at.
The roles and their interaction are light as the film tries to show what it means to be in a band on the road. They fall into, dare I say, adolescent situations. These same situations were done with more style because they were tongue in cheek in the Friday the 13th film series. There is gore, there are killings and blood plus the use of a paper shredder in the resolution. The real story is of Elinore and that should have been the crux of the film. Too much time on the band members and their back story that could have been handled faster.
The concept of SWEET TASTE OF SOULS is not original as it has been done in a smaller scale in the Twilight Zone TV series, for example, or the underrated Bert Gordon’s 1958 cheapie production ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE. Some strong cinematography, good editing and pace along with minimal effects means budget. That ‘disappearing ‘of the people is handled in an elementary, silly almost ‘Ed Wood’ way. It is an independent film that doesn’t suffer from poor acting only cliché scripting and occasionally, the look of a set.
Director Terry Ross’s depiction of young people lacks any development. The males are only looking to take part in a Hunter/ gatherer lifestyle, and the females only exist as objects of desire. The females point out what is wrong with the males in a mirroring of Ellinore’s vendetta of imprisoning heterosexual couples. The ‘sweet taste ‘ in the the title could be the pies or revenge. SWEET TASTE OF SOULS has been nominated and has won numerous awards from festivals both in North America and Europe.
Review by Terry Sherwood