It’s easy to take a glance at Soulmate and cast it as a stereotypical ghost story. It has all the classic elements: a grieving widow, an isolated village constantly covered in a thin veil of mist, prying neighbors. But the film sets out to change your mind as quickly as possible. Audrey (Anna Walton), after losing her husband and being fully consumed by grief, attempts suicide. Although she survives, her grief becomes too much to bear, so she sets out to regain her footing and become the person she always hoped to be. In the lonely cottage she rents, she finds a desperate ghost named Douglas, who died by suicide spurred by heartache.
The pivotal moment of the film is where the beauty lies, rough and upsetting—Audrey, describing how her husband died and how she ended up at the cottage. The film is unrelenting in its gaze, focusing on her and nothing else. There’s no melodramatic music, no flashbacks, no soft glances out the window. It’s just her, finally being able to tell her story without someone trying to sympathize. She tells it best; no one ever asks questions. Part of her journey of healing and mourning is being able to describe the very things that are causing her pain without the fear of judgment. Audrey mentions the true fear of the film: that people are afraid to see you cry. Being faced by the presence of a ghost who has gone through something similar finally provides the solidarity she’s been craving. Audrey doesn’t want to forget or ignore what has happened to her. She just wants to deal with it. As simple as it sounds, it’s nearly impossible for her to grieve around a sister who laces every note of concern with a smidge of accusation and a neighbor whose own baggage interferes at the worst possible times.
At its core, Soulmate shows the navigation of a woman facing grief on her own terms. It’s a rare moment that most horror movies seem to neglect. The importance of Soulmate is the possibility of a different horror: what it means to grieve in compliance rather than in your own way.
Jordan Mulder is a writer based out of Minnesota. A recent graduate from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s in English, her writing often revolves around feminism in horror and anime.