After a terrifying childhood encounter with the supernatural Katya (Aleksandra Bortich) can now glimpse the souls of the departed. Cast to the fringes of society, and trying to earn a living from talking to the dead, Katya is drowning in her own personal grief….and quiet a bit of vodka. However when she sees a vision of her twin sister being kidnapped, she sets off on a quest that sets her at odds with a serial killer, one who’s ghostly victims hang mute, and with a connection to an abandoned mansion from Katya’s own past.
The Soul Conductor sets itself a relentless pace, providing chills at every opportunity, rarely giving the audience a chance to catch its collective breath. Here the strong cinematic style is emphasised, giving a distinctive beauty to the horror, be it the crisp white of the snow covered woods, or the desolation of line upon line of rusted vintage cars in a junk yard. Primary among these is the abandoned mansion that acts as the focal point for much of the paranormal activity in the film. A clichéd location given fresh life by the simple addition of a carpet of autumn leaves lying across every floor. That juxtaposition of natural and unnatural, primal and constructed, is a great metaphor for the crossing between the real world and the supernatural, and is used to strong effect.
However that relentless pace is also an occasional negative. The Soul Conductor never really gives us enough time to steep ourselves with the spiritual mythology it is constructing, or to understand the relentless otherworldly evil Katya is set against. A moment to breathe, reflect, genuinely develop the characters and explain some of the elements, might have created something with a little more depth.
Having said that, the character of Katya does shine through. Aleksandra Bortich imbues the role with a sense of loss and frustration set deep within the character. It may be a familiar redemption arc, but it is one that the young Belarus actor pulls off with a degree of style.
As it is The Soul Conductor is a slickly produced piece of popcorn entertainment. It hits the ground running and rarely pauses, providing more than just the pointless jump scares that have pervaded so much horror of late.
The Soul Conductor is showing as part of the Russian Resurrection Film Festival (November 15-21) at the Luna Leederville. Check website for details and session times.