The horror film “Soul Devourer” suffers from script flaws and uneven acting performances.

The movie was released on December 15th and directed by Tran Huu Tan (known for “Haunted House Near Home” and “Forest of the Dead”). It was adapted from a novel by Thao Trang. When announced in November, the film garnered attention due to the success of the “Hell Village” series, which was produced by the same team and aired on Netflix. The film serves as a prequel to the series, with the main events taking place half a century before the events in “Hell Village.”

The independent script of “Soul Devourer” allows viewers who haven’t seen the series to understand the plot. The film begins with the wedding of Phong (Hoang Ha) and Sang (Vo Dien Gia Huy) in a village isolated from the outside world. The village has been under a curse for generations, preventing its inhabitants from leaving the mountain due to past massacres committed by their ancestors. Phong discovers a strange woman at the wedding, but her father and others do not believe him.

Subsequently, a series of murders occur in the village, revealing a plot involving Thap Nuong (Lan Phuong) – a soul with dark powers. Phong must protect his family and the villagers while uncovering the identity of the murderer.

The acting performances in the film are uneven. Vo Dien Gia Huy, playing alongside Hoang Ha, lacks in both expression and dialogue delivery. Sang’s character is dull in the first two acts and only becomes more prominent towards the end when the culprit is revealed. In some scenes where characters reveal their inner turmoil, the 26-year-old actor fails to convey the emotions effectively, with his eyes lacking vitality. The romantic subplot between Sang and Phong also fails to convince viewers due to the actors’ lack of chemistry.

In the early screening in Ho Chi Minh City on December 14th, some viewers criticized Gia Huy’s delivery and noted unclear dialogue in some scenes. The actor acknowledged this as his weakness in previous projects, which became more apparent in horror films. He expressed his dissatisfaction upon reviewing the film and stated his commitment to improve in future projects with the feedback from viewers.

The other actors, such as Chieu Xuan (as Mrs. Tam Kheo) and Lan Phuong (as Thap Nuong), play their roles adequately. Hoang Ha stands out as a rare talent, leaving a mark with his role as the story’s lead. Phong’s character undergoes psychological development, especially in a scene where he confronts the village chief about not leading the villagers down the mountain.

The film’s script lacks balance. With a runtime of 109 minutes, the director builds a suspenseful and investigative atmosphere, dividing the film into three parts. However, film critic Lucas Luân Nguyen from Ho Chi Minh City criticized the film’s storytelling approach. He found the beginning to be vague, mainly used for introducing the characters and the setting. The ending, on the other hand, accelerates with a series of events, creating an overwhelming feeling for viewers. According to Nguyen, the beginning lacks a clear focus on whose story is being followed and what the main character’s goal is when the village suddenly turns chaotic. The ending, however, feels exaggerated, potentially confusing viewers.

The film also falls short in its visual effects, with some scenes showing subpar VFX quality. The sequences of fire and flying fireflies in the night are not as visually appealing as expected, revealing noticeable computer-generated graphics.

The film’s main strength lies in its art direction. With a strong background in horror films, the team successfully depicts the dark atmosphere of the “Hell Village,” the image of the boat carrying the dead, and the characters’ practice of dark magic. The village, the film’s main setting, exudes a mysterious and chilling vibe reminiscent of the rocky plateau of Ha Giang, isolated in the mist.

The filmmakers invested heavily in costume design, including the wedding scene at the beginning of the film. The scene impresses with its dominant red color, incorporating many details of folklore. The procession features people in traditional costumes with five-panel ao dai, ceremonial robes, and masks shaped like mice – a village tradition to “avoid being lured by fireflies.”

Without relying heavily on jump scares, the film instills fear through visual effects and sound. The victims of the curse “sweat blood” with wounds resembling holes on their bodies, a deliberate choice by the director to evoke trypophobia in viewers. The sound is adjusted to create a sense of reverberation, as if voices from afar are echoing, such as when the female lead is called by a demon.

Before being approved for release, the film underwent three rounds of censorship and was released a week later than scheduled. Director Huu Tan stated that the film was toned down in some horrifying scenes, and the image of puppets was blurred, but these adjustments did not affect the overall content. After two days of release, the film topped the box office in Vietnam with 20 billion VND, as of the evening of December 16th, according to Box Office Vietnam.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top