Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 3, 2021)
Across more than 20 years as an actor, Rainn Wilson became best-known for comedies, especially via his role as Dwight on the US version of The Office. With 2020’s Don’t Tell a Soul, Wilson branches out into a dark thriller.
When single mother Carol (Mena Suvari) becomes severely ill with cancer, her teen sons Matt (Fionn Whitehead) and Joey (Jack Dylan Grazer) try to help financially. Unfortunately, they lack legal means to generate funds, so instead they decide to pilfer money from a home briefly left empty for fumigation.
As they attempt this larcenous endeavor, security guard Hamby (Wilson) gives chase and eventually winds up trapped in a well. This launches a cat and mouse game where Hamby begs for his life but also holds some cards of his own that might threaten the teens.
I appreciate the simplicity of Soul’s basic plot, and the movie occasionally veers down some intriguing avenues. However, it can feel a bit too predictable at times, and it doesn’t quite live up to its potential along the way.
Most of the unsurprising twists relate to Hamby, as he develops in a way that the movie paints as nearly inevitable. To avoid spoilers, I won’t reveal these curveballs, but the film sets them up in such a ham-handed way that they lack the desired shock value when the story reveals them to us.
Still, Soul delivers reasonable tension, and it does provide a sibling relationship that I didn’t anticipate before I started to watch the film. I assumed that the movie would paint both brothers as good eggs, but instead, it portrays Matt as an angry sociopath.
This adds an unanticipated edge to Soul and helps create drama along the way. While I figured the movie would focus on the boys vs. Hamby, it develops more into a brother vs. brother battle, and that gives it some juice.
The actors do well in their roles as well. Wilson seems convincing as the guy with a secret, and Grazer offers an ingratiating take on the nice brother.
All of these factors mean Soul offers a wholly watchable tale, but some of those predictable elements knock it down a few points. Still, it keeps us with it, and at a tight 83 minutes, it never wears out its welcome, so my feelings toward the movie remain mostly positive.