2010 Halloween 12-Pack : “My Soul To Take”

Posted: October 18, 2010 in movies
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"My Soul To Take" Movie Poster

So, it’s October, and that means it’s non-stop horror review month here at TFG. Last year I went with the “Halloween countdown” theme, only it wasn’t really much of a countdown, so this year I’m going with a 12-pack theme. I’ll take a look at a dozen different horror flicks, from the grindhouse fare I typically cover to bona fide classics to straight-to-video low-budgeters to some of the current theatrical releases that Hollywood is trying to use to separate you from your hard-earned cash to everything in between. And I’ll start our survey of the horror landscape with the latest from Wes Craven, since in my book it still qualifies as an “event” when the guy who wrote and directed The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Serpent and the Rainbow, among others, comes out with a new flick. In 3-D, no less!

Let’s start right there, shall we? Yeah, judging a 3-D film on its overall usage of this resurgent and supposedly “improved” technology isn’t fair to the story, the direction, the performances, etc. But still. This was shot specifically for 3-D, rather than having the effects added in post-production, and 3-D is being used as its main selling point, so it deserves to have its 3-d-ness, or whatever it’s called, critiqued.

In short, it sucks. There’s no need for this movie to be in 3-D at all, there are very few jump-out-of-your-seat moments (and those that are on offer would be just fine in 2-D), and 3-D adds nothing to the overwhelming majority of the scenes. If you’re determined to see this flick, save yourself a few bucks and catch it in regular 2-D, you won’t be missing a thing.

That being said, the sad truth here is that you won’t be missing a thing if you skip My Soul to Take altogether. Craven is mining somewhat similar territory to the original A Nightmare on Elm Street here, only doing it much less effectively, and frankly much more tentatively.

We’ve got the usual all-teenage cast here, with a protagonist named Bug (Max Thieriot) who’s having a hard time differentiating dreams from reality. Bug’s part of a group of kids known as “The Riverton Seven,” who hail from a small town named — you guessed it! — Riverton, and were all born, coincidentally enough, on the same night that a local serial killer named — you guessed it again! — The Riverton Ripper was finally killed by the local cops. Legend has it that the Ripper transferred a piece of his soul into each of these kids and that one of these years, on the anniversary of his death, he’s going to come back and exact his revenge on the town and kill The Riverton Seven (even though his soul supposedly lives on in them) and anyone else he feels like. Or something. What he’s going to do and how he’s going to do it is never truthfully spelled out all that well.

Anyway, members of this oh-so-special group of seven start getting killed, Bug keeps seeing shit in his dreams, and we’re supposed to think that maybe he’s killing them. Or, again, something. You never really get the impression that Bug’s the mass-murdering type even though he’s supposed to seem like it, but Craven doesn’t make him seem like anything more than a giant red herring from the get-go. In truth, the biggest surprise he could play would be to reveal that Bug is, in fact, the killer.

So is he? I’m not going to say in case you really are hell-bent on seeing this thing, but I will say this — for a movie that flirts with the subconscious and the supernatural in an explicit, not just thematic, sense throughout, the story’s Scooby Doo-style, “I’d have gotten away with it all if it wasn’t for you meddling kids” ending feels like a pretty massive cop-out.

On the plus side, you’ll be too inured to actually caring about what the fuck happens in this film by that point to feel to disappointed. That’s because not only has Craven put together a “mystery” that’s frankly well-nigh impossible to get involved in here, he’s populated it with characters that are so unrealistic that you couldn’t care less about them, either. His teenagers are all too clever by half, too mature, and frankly too uninteresting to really involve you with their “struggles.” Like the old redneck bumpersticker says, kill ’em all and let God sort it out.

I don’t take any pleasure in slagging off a Wes Craven product this completely. This guy has earned his “horror legend” label and is a profoundly skilled writer and director. But My Soul to Take feels like he’s mailing it in, and frankly might be just plain out of ideas. “I haven’t gut much of a script here, but if we shoot it in 3-D it might just put some butts in the seats” is the overwhelming feeling I walked away from this one with.

Take another nice, long break, Wes. You’ve earned it, to be sure, but this movie proves that you obviously need it, too.

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