By Merle Bertrand | October 18, 1999

Phillip (Rufus Collins) steps over a dead man’s body which lies on the floor and disappears down a sunlit street. Six months later, he informs Minister Morell (Roland Kerr) that God is calling him to start a ministry of his own. Nervous about his guest’s eccentric behavior, the good reverend encourages Phillip to start slowly with a Bible study group. On the first night of his fledgling group, the aspiring man of the cloth meets John Atlin (Matthew Aaron), formerly one of the town’s most popular athletes but a brain-damaged recluse ever since a biking accident. Phillip obsesses on John, convinced the stricken youth isn’t so much injured as he is possessed. When news of Phillip’s murky and possibly lethal past reaches Minister Morell, the worried minister races against the clock to prevent the demented maniac from committing another tragic act of holy healing.
An otherwise simplistic and predictable drama by Irving Belateche, “Saving Souls” works fine as long as Phillip’s on-screen. Collins, with his bushy beard, wild eyes and tousled hair, is superb as the intense fanatic. Convinced that “The Devil don’t come knockin’ unless he’s invited,” this cross between the most obnoxious scripture-quoting, holier-than-thou lunatic you’ll ever meet and Charles Manson seems to believe that practically everyone is rolling out the “Welcome” mat. He may be a well-intentioned cretin, but he’s a cretin nonetheless. Thanks to him, the solid, if unspectacular “Saving Souls” shows why nobody likes a zealot.

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