My Soul to Take

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You can keep it, Wes!


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The H-Bomb: One night in the quiet town of Riverton, a serial killer known as the Riverton Ripper is mortally wounded by police. While en route to the hospital, the Ripper comes to and attacks the paramedics, causing the ambulance to crash and burn. The Ripper’s bloody stretcher is found next to  the river… but he isn’t. Whether or not the Ripper is dead remains a mystery, but what is known is that on that same night, seven children were born in Riverton.

It’s learned that the Ripper was a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder… seven different personalities to be exact, one of which was the killer. That turns out to be very convenient since there were seven children born that night, thus starting the local legend that each child inherited a soul of one of the different personalities.

Sixteen years later, the seven kids born on that most unholy of nights, gather by the river where the Ripper disappeared in order to “kill him.” That is, to destroy some puppet likeness of him out of the superstitious belief that it will keep him from coming back. These seven kids represent the whole spectrum of movie teenage stereotypes: we have jock/bully kid, bitchy popular girl kid, Bible thumping religious girl kid, geeky white kid, geeky Asian kid, geeky black kid, and the quiet one, Bug (Max Thieriot).

Now Bug, as we come to find out, is the special one of the group. He suffers from migraines, has strange visions and premonitions, seems to be at times psychically linked to the others, and will even take on their mannerisms. This year, it’s Bug’s turn to “kill” the Ripper, only before he can destroy the puppet, the cops break up the party.

The next day at school, Bug seems to be acting especially squirrely, as other members of the Riverton seven start to drop like flies. Could the Ripper still be alive? Or has his soul inhabited one of the kids? Or, a better question still… who gives a shit?

That needlessly convoluted set up is only the beginning of writer/director Wes Craven’s first feature film since 2005’s “Red Eye”. Craven, like other filmmakers who work mainly within the horror genre, has been hit-or-miss throughout his career. When he hits, he blows the bull’s eye right out of the fucking target (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “New Nightmare”, “Scream”). When he misses, he tends to range from mediocre (“Cursed”), to unbearably dreadful (“The Hills Have Eyes, Part 2”).

Sadly, “My Soul to Keep”, which was touted as the comeback for this “Master of Horror,” is a miss. A big one. An epic fail. A crushing disappointment. A complete misfire. A movie so unfathomably bad that within the first fifteen minutes the viewer will realize exactly why the studio hid this sucktacular suckfest from the critics for as long as they could. [Editor's note - that would explain why we didn't get an invite]  This film is like an hour and forty minutes of nails dragging on a chalkboard, it is that fucking miserable.

It’s so horrendous I was tempted to do something I’ve never done in my entire movie going life… walk out on it. That’s right, that’s how bad this thing blows. But, the reviewer in me prevailed, and I stuck it out, just to see if it got any better… it didn’t.

Thing of it is, this movie is sunk entirely by one element, Craven’s script. It is just mind bogglingly terrible on every conceivable level. As I mentioned earlier, the characters are so clichĂ©d they’re cartoonish. That wouldn’t be so bad, except for the fact that Craven wants us to take this shit seriously. The dialogue is so wretched it’s absolutely embarrassing to listen to. (“Wake up and smell the Starbucks.”- yeah, someone actually says that) It’s as if Craven is trying to write like his old “Scream” scribe, Kevin Williamson. His attempts at writing witty teen banter are just pathetic beyond all comprehension.

The plot is choppy, has absolutely no flow, and the suspense and thrills are pretty much non-existent. Not to mention Craven stuffs his story with copious amounts of pointless filler. Like an over-the-top (and utterly ridiculous) scene set in a science class where Bug gives a presentation about the California Condor. The Condor is supposed to be some kind of metaphor for the collecting and protection of souls, but it’s all just pointless, philosophical gibberish.

Craven then bores us with a subplot about High School student hierarchy politics where Bug and a friend spy on a group of bitchy popular girls (the leader of which is some obnoxious Rose McGowan clone). There is, admittedly, some information learned during this scene, but it’s clunky and strange and goes on way too long. In fact, most of the exposition in this film is delivered in forced, awkward ways, like the scene where Bug’s sister, who’s smaller than him, beats the living shit out of him(???), before telling him a secret about his past.

The scenes in which the killer stalks and takes out his victims are quick and curiously ineffective, and when we finally do get to the bloody climax, it’s filled with more exposition than thrills. The characters spend minutes just talking to each other instead of fighting and slashing each other to ribbons.

Also, the whole idea of Bug being psychic is ultimately rendered pointless because Craven never develops it in any kind of meaningful way. Like other plot strands, it just kind of hangs there.

The film is being shown in 3-D, though it was not shot that way, and it shows because it’s not noticeable and does nothing to add to the excitement of this weirdly un-exciting experience. That, ultimately, is the movie’s main problem, it is just plain fucking boring! Damn it to Hell, I expected better from you, Wes!

Craven had an interesting idea, but he botched completely with his sub-par, at times incoherent, screenplay. This is a real let down for me. “Life as We Know It” should not have been the better film to come out this weekend. Here’s hoping Craven has better luck with “Scream 4”.


3 Responses to “My Soul to Take”

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  2. Action Flick Chick Says:

    Such a shame.

  3. Dream House Review - South Florida Movie Reviews by I Rate Films Says:

    [...] last time I sat through a suspense flick this lifeless was around this time last year with “My Soul to Take“, and while it didn’t quite plummet to the same level of suckage as that Godforsaken [...]