Lulu and Sylvester ride a bike in their new neighborhood.
Island of Lost Souls starts with a flashback to Copenhagen in the nineteenth century. There we see a meeting of the Lodge, a group of people including Herman Hartmann (Anders W. Berthelsen) who fight against evil spirits. They have captured a necromancer (Lars Mikkelsen) and hope to use the magic of their special Lodge Book to wipe him out and end his rein of terror. The Lodge is led by Linea (Beate Bille), Hartmann’s girl friend and the only member of the Lodge strong enough to use the magic to defeat the necromancer. Although she is able to kill his body, his spirit escapes and in the process she is killed. Despondent and defeated because no one else is strong enough to use the magic of the Lodge book, the group decides to divide up the pages of the book so that the necromancer will never be able to get the entire book.
Lulu watches her new neighbor, Oliver, trying to dive into the pool.
The film then takes us to a small coastal town in rural Denmark in the present day where we see 14-year-old Lulu (Sara Langebæk Gaarmann) is moving into a house with her just divorced mother Beate (Anette Støvelbæk) and younger brother Sylvester (Lucas Munk Billing). Lulu is not happy at all about the move and feels isolated from the life she knew in Copenhagen and bored because there is nothing to do. Lulu is very interested in the spiritual world and has seances with her Ouji board, but her younger brother makes fun of her and her mother feels that she should concentrate on the present and making new friends. They are not able to do much in the way of family activities because Beate is a hospital administrator working night shifts. The only other kid in town that she meets is Oliver (Lasse Borg), son of rich parents, very shy and fearful of heights. Oliver’s stepfather, a fitness fanatic, is always making Oliver do exercises that he has great difficulty in completing. Things in Lulu’s life take a radical change when one night Sylvester is struck by a ball of white light which turns out to be the spirit of Herman Hartmann temporarily possessing his body. Suddenly Sylvester is acting very strangely and (ironically) maturely. Now that Hartmann has a physical body, he can hear the constant cries of souls trapped on a nearby island calling to him for help. One night Lulu and Oliver follow him to a pier on the ocean and listen to him calling back to them saying that there is nothing he can do. They confront Sylvester/Herman and he admits to them who he is and that he doesn’t know how to escape out of Sylvester’s body. Oliver knows of a psychic researcher in town and the three kids go to him to see if he can exorcise Herman’s spirit from Sylvester’s body. Richard (Nicolaj Kopernikus) is very skeptical of what the kids tell him. In all of his twenty years of research with all of his scientific equipment, he has not found one real spirit. Richard puts his hands on Sylvester and tells him that the spirit is exorcised, but of course nothing happened and the kids soon leave, realizing that Richard doesn’t believe Herman’s story.
Herman and Lulu escape from the scarecrow.
But Lulu, who believes in spirits and ghosts, wants to help Herman and investigate what is happening on the spirit island. She persuades Oliver to borrow his stepfather’s boat, and the three row over there. Once on the island, the three kids discover that there are stripes of dead earth, devoid of all life, and soon they are pursued by one of the necromancer’s minions, an evil scarecrow who suddenly comes to life and chases them all over the island. The kids stumble into the necromancer’s lair and discover that there are hundreds of souls kept there in bottles. The necromancer catches lost souls looking for the bridge to heaven while they are still on earth and persuades them to reveal where they have hidden wealth by promising to help them find their way. When the necromancer discovers Lulu, Oliver, and Herman’s presence he sends an evil spirit after them. Meanwhile, back in town Richard replays a tape of his meeting with the three kids and discovers that Sylvester/Herman was telling the truth and his equipment reveals a significant spiritual presence when the camera focuses on Sylvester. Realizing that the kids must be in real danger on the island, Richard races over to the island in his speed boat and rescues the three kids from the necromancer and his minions. Retreating back to the town, the four plot how they can take on the necromancer and defeat the forces of evil he represents before he is able to gain ultimate power with the last pages of the Lodge book. The balance of the film is about their struggles to do so, the battles that they have with the necromancer, and their attempts to preserve the spiritual tranquility of the present world.
Richard shows Lulu, Sylvester/Herman, and Oliver some of his scientific equipment.
Island of Lost Souls had good box office in Denmark when it was released in early 2007. It is unfortunate that the film has not been released in Region 1 DVD for the North American market, because it would do very well in this market. However, it is available on streaming with Amazon Prime. Cinematographer Rasmus Videbæk gives us a typical wide angle dark European look, especially on all of the Spirit Island scenes. This film is filled with special effects and the computer generated flying souls are cleverly integrated into the live shots. Writer/director Nikolaj Arcel keeps the action moving and has elicited very good performances out of his child actors, especially Lucas Munk Billing, who moves very effectively between the personality of an annoying 12-year-old kid to that of a 35 year old Victorian era male trying to deal with both his spiritual quest and the 21st century. The character development of Oliver is especially well done by Lasse Borg as he emerges from being an insecure adolescent with phobias about heights and doing vigorous physical exercise to someone willing to help out Lulu and Herman. His characterization works because he underplays everything and still retains some of his fears and shyness even at the end of the film. Sara Langebæk Gaarmann succeeds in her role of the heroine Lulu with the same kind of understated but determined acting, very much like a real nonchalant 14-year-old would act. The actual storyline itself is well traveled territory, perked up by all of the special effects, but still basically a Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter good versus evil type of storyline. For a family audience it provides some good suspense and thrills.
Lulu confronts an evil spirit.
Lulu grudgingly brings her things into her new room.
In her leading role as Lulu, Sara Langebæk Gaarmann wears plaid high top chucks throughout the film. Chucks are a good fit for her character which has a lot of attitude and independence. There aren’t many close ups but the best scene is where Lulu is bringing boxes of her belongings into her new room.
Lulu brings in a box of her things.
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Island of Lost Souls is not currently available in Region 1 DVD but is available on streaming. In Danish with English subtitles.