For many of us, technology is our constant companion.
Technology calms our lonely souls. Technology fills our empty spaces. Technology lulls us into believing that we are liked or loved or popular or successful. Technology is the answer even when we're not sure of the question.
Or so we've allowed ourselves to believe.
In her directorial debut with My Soul to Take, Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, V-Wars) explores the dangers of a world where technology replaces human connection and where we far too often surrender our self-worth and our very souls to strangers whether through social media or some other aspect of the technological world that is both seductive and utterly terrifying. Vandervoort's story begins with Quinn (Jenny Raven), a young woman in her 30's whose life on social media appears idyllic but whose reality is far more stark and isolated. Hopeless and lonely, Quinn quickly accepts an update to her phone that is followed by a free sleep app.
With a comforting voice (Rainbow Sun Francks) guiding into a place of relaxation, Quinn surrenders herself to a dream world of antiquities, powerlessness, and night terror.
My Soul to Take is a dark tale, a 13-minute journey into the most vulnerable places within the soul brought even more vividly to life by Jenny Raven's full-on immersion into this darkness as Quinn. It's difficult to describe just how good Raven is here, simultaneously heartbreaking and incredibly frightening as she battles as much with herself as with forces outside herself. Raven's performance has an eerie calm to it, a sense of resignation that aches palpably and lingers in your psyche' long after the film's closing credits have rolled by.
Were I not already aware that My Soul to Take is screening as part of the Heartland Horror block of shorts at Indy Horror, I too would have been lulled by the meditative yet commanding vocal work by Rainbow Sun Francks as you can practically feel him reaching deeply inside Quinn and twisting and turning her soul. Similarly, Colm Feore's presence here as Fred is brief yet mesmerizing.
Lensing by Kim Derko is nothing short of astounding as Derko weaves together heightened anxiety and intimacy, desperation and resolution. Erica Procunier's original music is a sublime complement to everything that unfolds here.
The list could go on and on because, quite simply, every aspect of this production impresses and immerses including Josh Turpin's production design, Somerville Black's art direction, and Crystal Silden's costume design that completes what is a remarkable visual tapestry.
There were some who questioned whether or not the fine folks at Heartland Film and Indy Shorts were completely bonkers for adding the horror genre to the fest's mix, however, a film like My Soul to Take is proof positive of just how beautifully it works as My Soul to Take is both horrifying and truly a Heartland film.
Screening in competition at the 2022 Indy Shorts from June 19-24th, My Soul to Take is a jarring, unforgettable cinematic experience.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic