Thursday 7 April 2011


Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray is Wes Craven's latest offering, My Soul To Take. Check out the trailer and read my review, next...

Sixteen years after the disappearance of the Riverton Ripper, a group of teenagers celebrate their birthdays under the cloud of the possible return of the Ripper. When they start to get picked off one by one, it's up to the unpopular and strange high schooler Bug (Max Thieriot) to figure out what's happening to his classmates before the killer makes his way around to him. But is Bug already closer to the killer than he realises?

Foam dripping from his mouth through gritted teeth... eyes glazed over from all the atrocities he's witnessed... a promise that blood will be spilled from a madman hell bent on revenge. No, not the return of the Riverton Ripper, just my instant reaction to this piece of utter garbage.

Beginning with one of the most ludicrously rushed through opening sequences I've ever seen, My Soul To Take quickly introduces us to the group of sixteen year old's who share their birthday with the death of the town's resident serial killer. Just for a change, rather than following the exploits of the cocky football player, the pretty cheerleader or the token black/asian guy, we're lumbered with the socially awkward but thoroughly average white kid. Oh no wait, that's what always happens, isn't it?

Burdened with some Final Destination-type visions, Bug is known to completely zone out for long periods of time and reawaken unsure of what he's been doing. Does this mean he could be the reincarnation of the killer? At least some of his classmates think so. Director Wes Craven has delved into the psychology of dreams before, creating A Nightmare On Elm Street's Freddy Krueger, one of cinema's most iconic villains (before the sequels reduced him down to a laughable parody of his former slash-happy self). Well here he's skipped the sequels and gone straight to giving us a pointless, unthreatening, instantly forgettable bad guy. Calling up his victims and taunting them down the phone? That's so 1996.

At least on DVD and Blu-Ray My Soul To Take doesn't have to suffer the ignominy of being presented in 3D, as it was originally shown during its brief theatrical run. Never mind Clash Of The Titans, this must be the best (or worst) example yet of a studio tacking on the 3D format in order to boost the film's revenue. There's not a single moment in this film that looks like it would be enhanced through 3D glasses, although it probably would have been a more enjoyable experience if I'd have just closed my eyes and allowed Freddy Krueger to invade my dreams. Rip me apart Freddy, please, feel free.

During the opening sequences I found myself questioning whether it was all meant to be a satire or parody of recent slasher films (as Craven has been known to do in the past), but unfortunately, no, it's not. It's just a poorly written and unevenly directed film from one of horror's biggest names, and overwhelming proof of the negative effect EMO music and culture has had on horror films. Zero scares, over-reliance on loud noises, laughable situations and hokey, tacked-on supernatural bumph abounds.

It's really not sure what it wants to be either, taking bizarre detours that may further the story slightly, but completely distract from its standing as a horror film. Who cares about what the girls are saying about Bug in the girl's bathroom, when all it does is make us suffer more of the unimaginative and poorly drawn characters with thoroughly unbelievable 'teen speak' dialogue; some of my favourite examples being, "If things get too hot, turn on the PRAYER conditioning" and "Wake up and smell the Starbucks". Oh dear.

Working within the horror genre you're afforded a lot of leeway as to what's presentable to an audience, and although My Soul To Take may merely be a warm-up act for Craven's return to the director's chair, you'd never expect such a nonsensical piece of crap from one of the genres most seasoned veterans. Perhaps if he'd spent a bit more time refining his script there might have been a better outcome, but instead were left with an obnoxious gaggle of school kids put in unconvincing situations. Think about it, it seems unlikely that out seven American High Schoolers, not one of them was throwing a party on their sixteenth birthday.

It's a depressing fact that this is what's become of the once great Wes Craven. I was being apprehensively cautious about the new installment of the Scream franchise (I don't think it's necessary), but if it's anything close to being as poor as My Soul To Take, perhaps Wes should just hang up his Butcher knives and caro syrup and retire already. Mr Craven, if you're listening, please don't go all John Carpenter on us, we promise to remember the good times.


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