‘Guilt becomes a heavy burden to bear’
8 aka The Soul Collector is a 2019 South African horror feature film written and directed by Harold Holscher. The Man Makes a Picture Productions movie stars Inge Beckmann, Garth Breytenbach, Tshamano Sebe and Chris April.
Bankruptcy forces William Ziel (Garth Breytenbach) to return to the farm he inherited from his estranged father in an attempt to start a new life with his young, fragmented family.
Lazarus (Tshamano Sebe), the farmhand who took care of William’s father Frederick in his lonely final hours, reappears soon after William, Sarah and adopted daughter Mary (Keita Luna), arrive at Hemelop- Aarde.
A supposed chance meeting between Mary and Lazarus develops into a bond between two kindred spirits. But Lazarus, the old soul who struggles to find peace in this place of sad memories, carries a dark secret that constantly haunts him: the demon child with its insatiable appetite for human souls that weighs so heavily in the sack he carries everywhere with him.
Despite Sarah’s misgivings, this unfathomable character wins over William and Mary. At first, Sarah’s apprehension seems unfounded but, judging by the reaction of the local community to his return from wanderings afar, she may be right and the Ziels’ newfound domesticity could be at risk…
“The cinematography is captivating. David Pienaar conjures up the romanticism and danger of rural African life through a filter of hazy sunshine and creeping shadows […] 8 is an atmospheric and enthralling mix of traditional terror and modern genre cinema.” Backseat Mafia
“It blends African culture with western horror ideas in a way that worked well, and Lazarus made for a captivating villain to the full story. The sense of malice and grief gave an oddly sympathetic tone to the horrors being portrayed, and while not a perfect film, 8 is a stunning work and a great addition to the horror pantheon.” CG magazine
“Uneven characterizations notwithstanding, The Soul Collector does so much so well that it’s a true pity to be unable to recommend the movie without caveats. Despite the musculature of a solidly streamlined setup, engaging performances, and arresting photography, The Soul Collector doesn’t have enough heat in its beat to breathe pulsating life into its spectacular but static shell.” Culture Crypt
“This film could have been something great, but with an unsatisfying ending and a couple of subplots that felt like they didn’t fit, it gets knocked down to just being entertaining. Sebe really knocked it out of the park with his acting. He does exciting things with an already well-written character. If you’re in the mood for some great character acting, give The Soul Collector a watch.” Film Threat
“Overall, the production quality is very impressive and the story definitely held my interest. The only real issue I had (other than the usual “Listen to the woman, you idiots!”) was that the runtime felt a bit long.” Heaven of Horror
“The effects are extremely creepy as souls are collected on screen and we get to see what’s inside Lazarus’s satchel. There’s plenty of tension during the 99 minutes. The end twist works. The Soul Collector is a fine way to get an international fright on a hot summer night.” Inside Pulse
“Ultimately a story of how we, as humans, deal with grief and loss, The Soul Collector is an impressive debut feature for Harold Holscher and one that – thanks to its roots in South African folklore – also feels fresh, new and exciting.” Nerdly
“When 8 stays with Lazarus, it is firing on all cylinders. The more we explore the complex forces swirling around our characters, the more complicated the inner workings of the world become. These sequences are beautifully shot but are maybe one ingredient too many in the pot. The South African folklore tale is a very strong debut from Holscher and proof positive that this a land with stories that need to be told.” Nightmare on Film Street
“The cast really shines, none more than Sebe who delivers a complex performance that portrays the pain and suffering Lazarus is constantly facing while charming a family and performing his evil deeds. Though not perfectly paced, and with an ending that kind of loses itself, 8 is a well-made story that leans into grief and family to garner scares.” Nightmarish Conjurings
“Lazarus is obviously a threat to Mary’s safety, but what difference does our knowing that make given all the movie’s other incomplete or unanswered questions? The ties that bind Lazarus with Mary are ultimately not strong enough. Holscher’s story promises a lot, sometimes using simple practical in-camera special effects, but usually with frustrating dialogue.” RogerEbert.com
“Taking great care in creating a palpable yet mystically eerie atmosphere, The Soul Collector is a fine film and a most welcome surprise amongst the stale modern horror films of today. This is an unsettling and moody tale that doesn’t sneak up on you in the dark, it IS the darkness and it completely surrounds you from the very first moment until its final, jaw-dropping frame.” Screen Comment
“The film’s publicity cites Richard Stanley’s Dust Devil as a comparison. I’d add Basket Case as well, with its interplay between Lazurus and the bag’s occupant. 8: A South African Horror doesn’t have the gore of the latter film, but it does have some excellent makeup work for the demon child.” Voices from the Balcony
8 had its world premiere at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival in Canada in July. Scream Factory will release the movie as The Soul Collector in the USA in 2020 via Select Theaters, Digital and On Demand.
Cast and characters:
- Inge Beckmann … Sarah
- Garth Breytenbach … William
- Tshamano Sebe … Lazarus
- Chris April … Obara
- Keita Luna … Mary