‘Soulmates’ Offers A Fresh Perspective to the Horrors of Online Dating

Soul Mates

In the pantheon of torture porn entries where shock value often reigns supreme, Soulmates carves out its niche. This Mark Gantt-directed film narrowly skirts the sub-genre but spins it with a fresh premise centered around the perils of online dating.

Soulmates opens with a jarring scenario: Allison (Annie Ilonzeh) and Jason (Charlie Weber) awaken handcuffed together, with no memory of how they ended up in a dank, dungeon-like setting. Their captor is an online dating service named Soul Mates, orchestrating a series of macabre games. The Matchmaker, a white-haired, unnerving figure played with wicked glee by Neal McDonough, guides their nightmarish journey. His taunts and games are a twisted parody of first-date experiences, each set piece a dark reflection of typical online dating activities.

Writer Joe Russo explained his and co-writer Chris Lamont’s approach, saying, “We were both longtime married men and kind of terrified by the concept of having to use an app to meet someone. This fear, combined with the absurdity of dating game shows, inspired Soulmates.” This personal touch lends the film an authenticity that resonates with the audience’s apprehensions about modern dating.

Director Mark Gantt brings this vision to life, skillfully balancing the film’s horror elements with dark humor. “Each set piece in the maze had to make its own statement,” says Gantt. “We wanted to ensure that scenes like the karaoke bar and the ‘fancy’ dinner not only heightened the tension but also highlighted the absurdity of these contrived romantic scenarios.”

In Soulmates, the horror is not just about the physical ordeal the characters endure, but also the psychological terror of forced intimacy under extreme conditions. Gantt’s direction and Russo’s script weave together a narrative that is as much about the horror of vulnerability as it is about survival. The film cleverly uses its horror framework to comment on the artificial and often superficial nature of online dating and reality dating shows, turning it into a literal life-or-death situation. This approach provides a sharp, satirical edge to the film, making it more than just a series of gruesome challenges—it’s a commentary on the modern dating landscape.

Amidst the suspense and terror, Soulmates manages to explore deeper themes. Russo elaborates, “The idea was to show how people can bond through trauma. It’s an extreme version of how relationships in real life often form through shared experiences, both good and bad.”

With its blend of suspense, gore, and a dash of dark humor, Soulmates offers a definitively fresh perspective on the perils of modern dating.

Soulmates is available now on VOD.

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