TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! Like the roguish wordplay that inhabits its name, writer-director Scott Riopelle’s Soul Proprietor is many things. On the surface, the short film is a nod to the great possession films of cinema. But move past that simple veneer, and one finds a rather craftily written story that upends expectations. And dig a little deeper than that, and one discovers this is a playful love letter to the entire horror genre.
The film follows a seemingly rudimentary structure: An unnamed priest (Blair Williams) is midway through the exorcism of a young girl (Tehya Silbermann). The priest spars dauntlessly with the demon until he finally prevails. However, it is after the moment of his success that the procession truly takes a turn for the unforeseen.
“…priest spars dauntlessly with the demon until he finally prevails…”
The strongest aspect of Soul Proprietor is how cleverly Riopelle manipulates the audience’s perception to create tension and surprise. Every turn of the narrative adds a new and unexpected aspect to the events on-screen. This is all buffeted by excellent makeup and special effects work, which helps deliver a very classic horror atmosphere.
While the film does not endeavour to be any sort of weighty horror drama, it still manages to be novel and surprisingly multi-layered. Despite its semantic layers, Soul Proprietor is a solid and wholly enjoyable slice of horror.
Soul Proprietor screened at the 2023 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
"…a solid and wholly enjoyable slice of horror."