After losing her husband and surviving a brutal suicide attempt, Audrey (Anna Walton) relocates to a remote cabin to take some time to heal from both her physical and mental wounds. While there, however, she discovers that her new abode is filled with a horrific past of its own when she begins to hear strange sounds.
Writer director Axelle Carolyn’s Soulmate (2013) opens with the graphic image of Audrey attempting to take her own life. It’s a visual that leaves quite a visceral impact as well as nicely sets up the unstable mindset of Audrey, who is clearly not dealing with the death of her husband all too well. Surviving by the skin of her teeth, she’s a shattered woman who could fall back into a suicidal mindset at any second. Whether it be her current state of vulnerability, the dark nature of her recent past or a mixture of the two, Audrey is left wide open to the spirit that comes to haunt her. And it is this element of the film where its biggest strength lies. On the other hand, however, there is an inconsistent tone that hinders the film, and while there are certainly moments of horror, Soulmate is far from what one would consider a proper horror film.
Soulmate takes a classic approach to creating atmosphere, and the entirety of the film’s first act is effectively creepy as a result. With a dreary English countryside filled with howling winds painting the backdrop, Soulmate is simply saturated with dread. The slow and steady camerawork paired with endless silence and impressive sound design allows the viewer to be swept up into the mystery set up early in the film. Unfortunately, however, at the point when the ghostly apparition is revealed, things take an odd turn into near romantic drama territory, something that results in the film losing any sense of fear that was previously built.
The depiction of the ghostly apparition is specifically startling in how underwhelming it is, in that it’s simply a slightly translucent guy wearing some old fashioned clothing. The interactions between the apparition and Audrey are also a little silly, but that is nearly unavoidable when talking about a ghost and human having in-depth conversations about life, love and the failed pursuit of happiness that has led them both to the point in which their lives are now. Now, as a relationship-driven, character-based ghost film, these interactions work for what they are, but the fact that the film postures as a horror piece for the first act, they are tonally problematic.
While Soulmate is ultimately a bit of a failure, there is still much to glean from the final product in terms of filmmaking, atmosphere and a solid performance from Anna Walton. In the end, Soulmate feels very much like a very well-made lifetime movie. And that's not necessarily a dismissive statement as much as its simply the perfect way to describe the tone of the film. It should also be a good indicator as to whether or not the film is the right choice for you or not.