MY SOUL TO TAKE, 2010
In the sleepy town of Riverton, legend tells of a serial killer who swore he would return to murder the seven children born the night he died. Now, 16 years later, people are disappearing again. Has the psychopath been reincarnated as one of the seven teens, or did he survive the night he was left for dead? Only one of the kids knows the answer. Adam "Bug" Heller (Max Thieriot) was supposed to die on the bloody night his father went insane. Unaware of his dad's terrifying crimes, he has been plagued by nightmares since he was a baby. But if Bug hopes to save his friends from the monster that's returned, he must face an evil that won't rest...until it finishes the job it began the day he was born.
Release Date: 8 October 2010
Question for all of you psychopaths out there in horror movies who are stalking the young and traumatized sole survivors in their dark and empty houses: Why don’t you ever pick the closet door with the blinds as the most likely place they’ll be hiding? Haven’t you figured out that’s where they always go? If you open it up and start killing them right away, you can snuff out their efforts to plan an escape route or fabricate a weapon out of a coat hanger.
It is not really a spoiler since the hero-hiding-in-a-closet routine is such a traditional staple in slasher horror pictures. So is the abusive stepfather who is going to die horribly. So is the jock with the hilarious ego who always beats up the good kids. The bitchy queen who either gets redeemed in the end or axed in the middle. And don’t forget the jerkoff teachers and principals who are completely oblvious to the dangers around them. Yup, they are here too. For his most recent foray in his favorite genre, Wes Craven wrote and directed this feature about a boy who does not know whether or not he’s the hometown boogeyman.
Not surprisingly, the creator of Freddy Kreuger has always maintained a healthy interest in psychological backdrops. And that focus is what distinguishes “My Soul to Take” from so many other teenage bloodbaths. The story begins sixteen years ago when a man named Abel Plankov tried to kill his entire family. Abel had a dissociative identity disorder, and one of his multiple personalities has become famously known as the Riverton Ripper. But Abel, understandably terrified to learn the nature of his atrocities, didn’t have long to suffer this dark fame since he was shot dead the night he killed his pregnant wife. Miraculously, they were able to save the baby. Even more miraculously, six other children were born that night in Riverton.
But since evil souls always survive in the movies in order to possess and torment future generations, the Rpper has returned to Riverton to torment the seven sixteen-year-olds born on the date of his death. And there you have the Ripper’s motivation. Kill the ones who aren’t your reincarnation. Although what the Riverton Ripper’s motivation before his death is anyone’s guess. He uses a blade branded with the word “Vengeance”on it, but why he needs to exact his revenge on a bunch of dimtwit teenagers is a total mystery.
The film is at its best when its main characters are playing guessing games at the probably identity of the Ripper’s latest incarnation. And Craven tries hard to bend his slasher movie to a different psychological angle: that the hero must consider himself as one of the suspects. The complications reaches its zenith when best friends Alex (John Magaro) and Bug (Max Thieriot), who is himself Plankov’s son, bicker and speculate upon eachother’s wherabouts. Complicating matters further is Bug’s newly acquired sense of clairvoyancy among his dwindling birthday buddies. He sees their souls after they’ve been killed. Of course, his strange new power comes across as a severe form of schitzophreia to everyone else.
Craven ought to be proud for drafting a story that is part slasher terror and part whodunit mystery. Although, there are so many frantic and bumbling subplots thrown into the film’s final act, the climactic revelation of the Ripper’s identity feels more like a collection of soap opera twists than a plausible scenario. The subplot of Alex’s abusive stepfather Quint, for example, is so underdeveloped, it hardly appears relevant as it attempts closure.
But Craven and his characters are able to hold audience interest for the full 97 minutes. As the Riverton Seven click down to Two, the plotline speculates. Has Bug inherited his father’s insanity? Or has Alex become tragic villain, the Jack Torrance to Craven’s “Shining”? Or is it possible that the Riverton Ripper pulled a Michael Myers and returned home to kill the next generation in person? During these days of mindless “Saw” sequels, it is refreshing to see a horror filmmaker make you ask questions again.
And “My Soul to Take” is at its worst when it indulges in all of the typical horror fanfare that make this genre so popular among teenage audiences. The kids listen to terrible music. No one seems to take the dangerous situation seriously. The bullies pick on the heroes with an unreal amount of calculated turmoil. And of course, anyone over the age of thirty is a moron and will be dead within the hour. And unless you really want to see some trees extending their branches at you, it is advisable to skip the 3-D upgrade and watch it for what it is: a simple teenager cut-em-up romp just in time for Halloween. This is one of those movies where the producers decided to enhance with 3-D visual effects after it was completed, which is always a good sign that its use of this impressive technology will undoubtedly suck.