This isn’t the sort of revelation that will come as a surprise to most of you I’m sure, but after seeing My Soul to Take, one thing has become abundantly clear: Wes Craven must really hate teenagers. He’s been finding ways to kill, torture, and maim them for the better part of forty years. He kicked off this career of adolescent torment with the relentless The Last House on the Left and followed that with the equally depraved The Hills Have Eyes. Not content with terrorizing teens while they were conscious, he sent Freddy Krueger into their dreams armed with a razor glove and one-liners in A Nightmare on Elm Street. He even made light of his celluloid obsessions with the wink-and-nod slasher Scream. With My Soul to Take, Craven has found yet another way to traumatize his victims â€“ by putting them in a bad movie.
This isn't the sort of revelation that will come as a surprise to most of you I'm sure, but after seeing My Soul to Take, one thing has become abundantly clear: Wes Craven must really hate teenagers. He's been finding ways to kill, torture, and maim them for the better part of forty years. He kicked off this career of adolescent torment with the relentless The Last House on the Left and followed that with the equally depraved The Hills Have Eyes. Not content with terrorizing teens while they were conscious, he sent Freddy Krueger into their dreams armed with a razor glove and one-liners in A Nightmare on Elm Street. He even made light of his celluloid obsessions with the wink-and-nod slasher Scream. With My Soul to Take, Craven has found yet another way to traumatize his victims – by putting them in a bad movie.
My Soul to Take takes place in the small (and extraordinarily misty) fictional town of Riverton. Local legend tells of a serial killer with multiple personalities that vowed to return to the town to murder the seven children who were born the night he disappeared. Some even believe that The Ripper died that night, and his soul will possess the body of one of the aforementioned seven children so he may exact his vengeance.
Flash forward sixteen years, and the kids in question (known locally as The Riverton Seven) are now teenagers trying to juggle the pressures of being high school students and the subject of an urban myth. It is the sixteenth anniversary of The Ripper’s alleged death, and The Seven have gathered with other teenagers at the site where he was last seen to take part in a ceremony that will supposedly keep The Ripper and his soul at bay. The Riverton Seven are rather crudely introduced here; much like the cast of an upcoming movie would be introduced to the audience at a Comic-Con panel. One of these Seven, our protagonist Adam “Bug” Hellerman, has been chosen by token jock and super-douche Brandon to complete the ritual by fighting a large puppet representing The Ripper. However Bug’s trepidation and apparent pupaphobia leads to his refusal to strike “The Ripper” down, and the cops bust up the party before the ritual is fulfilled, paving the way for the killer to return.
From there, My Soul to Take really just ends up tripping into the same tired slasher tropes that you’d hope Wes Craven would be looking to avoid after building a fairly strong supernatural foundation early in the film. The themes of schizophrenia and possession are certainly present during the first act, but by the time one of the characters decides to investigate a mysterious noise in a dimly lit boiler room, you’ll know they’ve abandoned those themes altogether to make room for The Ripper’s killing spree. It is these kills that are My Soul to Take‘s biggest flaws. None of the victims are actually annoying enough that you find yourself rooting for the killer, and yet the kids are all so one-dimensional that you simply don’t care when they inevitably meet their end. The kills are so underwhelming that you’ll wonder if Craven just told the actors to wing it when the time came to film their deaths.
To its credit, My Soul to Take does feature some of the most age-appropriate casting I can remember seeing in a film centered on teenagers. Craven’s own Scream is a prime example of actors far too old to be cast as high school students. The score is pretty typical for the genre, doing its best to add to the tension and jump scares. My Soul to Take is also playing in 3D, a conversion done so poorly that you may forget you’re watching it in 3D at all until you notice mist or a tree branch popping out of the screen ever so slightly. For a movie that's barely worth watching as it is, paying an extra couple of bucks for some underwhelming 3D seems nearly criminal.
Overall Score: 4.15 – Terrible. (4s are terrible in many ways. They’re bad enough that even diehard fans of its genre, director, or cast still probably won’t enjoy it at all, and everyone else will leave the theater incredibly angry. Not only are these not worth renting, you should even change the TV channel on them in the future.)
If you absolutely must spend your hard-earned cash on seeing this disaster in theaters, do yourself a favor and stick to the standard 3D-less version if it’s available. For most horror fans, a Red Box rental will suffice, as there will be far better options at the box office this Halloween.
Overall Score: 4.75 — Did Wes Craven have a bad year, or did he just want to cash in on the 3D craze? He can't answer that right now; he's too busy regretting that he threw schizophrenic storylines into a high school murder whodunit movie that revolves around seven main characters – five of which have less screen time than the fake pet crow in the film. At least they weren’t all vampires. Read his full review here.