Lost Souls

“Lost Souls” was supposed to have been released last year. New Line Cinema held it, however, saying they didn’t want it to get confused with “Stigmata,” which came out around that time and which also deals with demonic possession and the Catholic church.

So instead “Lost Souls” is being released this week … right in the middle of a successful re-release of “The Exorcist.”

I suspect the REAL reason New Line shelved the film for a year is that it stinks.

Doe-eyed Winona Ryder stars as Maya, a woman whom the Catholic church uses as a lay-person when performing exorcisms, since she was once possessed herself. While dealing with a particularly nasty possession, she finds that the victim had been writing down a series of seemingly random numbers. She cracks the code and comes up with a name: Peter Kelson. Peter Kelson (Ben Chaplin) is a successful author dealing with criminology and forensics, and he’s had some weird dreams lately. Using a line of thinking that I think made sense in the movie but that I have forgotten now, Maya figures out that Peter is going to be the anti-Christ.

She tracks him down and tells him this; he is skeptical (aren’t they always?); he comes to realize it’s true. For reasons I’m pretty sure were not explained, at the precise moment of his 33rd birthday, he is going to “transform” into the actual embodiment of Satan, and the whole world better get back!

This is a limp, dull, predictable film, full of semi-creepy imagery and not a whit of brains or genuine thrills. When someone pulls a gun on someone else, that person half-heartedly pushes the gun away, there’s a two-second struggle, and then one of them is shot. In other words, even when something happens in this movie, nothing happens.

The manner in which Satan is defeated is pretty lame, too; apparently, all it takes to thwart the Prince of Darkness is a bullet. Who knew?

D+ (; R, some profanity, intense themes and images,.)