‘The Soul Eater’ FrightFest Glasgow 2024 Review: A Disturbing Feast

The Soul Eater

Deep in Le Val Gernon, France, one small town has suffered more than its fair share. Since the Sanitorium closed the tourist trade has dwindled and those who have stayed home are just getting by. To make matters worse strange events keep happening. A plane crashes in the area with no mechanical failure, and violent unexplainable deaths befall the townspeople. Is this all just bad luck or does something more sinister plague the countryside? It is this neglected town where directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury decided to lay their scene for The Soul Eater. 

All is not lost. Detective Elizabeth Guardino (Virginie Ledoyen) has arrived in town to solve these unusually gruesome crimes. However, to her surprise, Elizabeth is not the only investigator in the forgotten area. Following the disappearance of six boys from a neighboring town, Franck de Rolan (Paul Hamy), arrives on the scene of the gory crime, armed with theories to convince Elizabeth that her murder case is somehow linked. 

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The reluctant pair are no Mulder & Scully but they hold a more disturbed unity. Elizabeth is the detective led by logic, while Franck allows his emotions to drive his search. As we wait to discover the damage that bonds them, the audience is nudged toward possibilities beyond the scientific realm.

In comparison with their extreme horror beginnings, Bustillo and Maury’s The Soul Eater may seem tame at first. But in their years of cultivating a horrifying portfolio of films, the pair have learned when to hold back and when to let rip. The brutal death scenes are no match for what we force ourselves not to imagine as The Soul Eater’s grim truth is revealed. Discovering that humanity’s potential for cruelty is far worse than anything the supernatural world has to offer.

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The folklore of The Soul Eater, created by writers Annelyse Batrel and Ludovic Lefebvre, is uniquely crafted, with evidence of the being limited to hand-carved figures and manic drawings of the recently deceased. It seems as if the oral history of the creature has infected the townsfolk, as one by one they bow to its whims. To the chagrin of Elizabeth, this thing has no digital footprint, so she cannot research what she might be up against. In the age of information, there is nothing more chilling than being threatened with the unknown. As the unlikely pair of detectives struggle to grasp this mysterious entity, the sturdy ground of rationale falls away beneath them.

Since David Lynch’s Twin Peaks invited the eerie into the investigative thriller the supernatural and police procedural have often found their way back to each other. Most recently True Detective: Night Country mixed folklore with detective story and The Soul Eater has equally horrifying results. It is another of its ilk for those who want to be enchanted by the landscape and disturbed by the underbelly. It’s this potent concoction of the supernatural and the logical that leads law enforcement to refute legality. The Soul Eater may leave a bitter taste in our mouths, but the breadcrumbs of the film’s mysteries can be chewed on for days after this disturbing feast.



‘The Soul Eater’ is a disturbing feast from filmmakers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury.



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