MY SOUL TO TAKE (2010) review
written by: Wes Craven
produced by: Wes Craven, Iya Labunka & Alex Katagas
directed by: Wes Craven
rated R (for strong bloody violence, and pervasive language including sexual references) 107 min.
U.S. release date: October 8, 2010
I don’t know what happened to Wes Craven. This is the writer/producer/director behind such horror classics as the original “The Hills Have Eyes” and “The Last House on the Left”. Truly creepy movies that changed the genre during the 70’s. This is the guy who created Freddy Kreuger, gave us “The Serpent and the Rainbow” and most recently the “Scream” series. I mention all this to instill that he is an important creator in a specific genre. Sure, he’s had some stinkers here and there (sorry fans of “Vampire in Brooklyn” and “Cursed”), which he’s allowed, but you’d think that at age 71 he’d be a bit pickier at what he invests his time in. Hence the reason for my opening sentence, because this new movie of his has easily made it to my Worst Films of 2010 list. This is an irredeemably flawed and awful film in almost every way and most certainly lives up to its title….this movie has no soul.
Let’s see if I can stir up a semblance of what it’s about…. The “story” starts out with a prologue that almost shows promise. Craven wastes no time showing the craziness of Abel Plenkov (Raúl Esparza), a husband and father who obviously suffers from schizophrenia. He discovers this for the first time when he finds the signature knife of the Riverton Ripper, a brutal serial killer terrorizing a small community. His realization is too late for his pregnant wife, who he eviscerates just as the authorities come to take him out. Plenkov manages to off a few cops and his doctor (character actor, Harris Yulin) before he is taken away in an ambulance that winds up crashing near a river. The Ripper’s body is never found and it becomes urban legend that the supernatural was involved somehow and that he has disappeared.
Fast forward sixteen years (what I am guessing is modern-day), to the anniversary of Plenkov’s death, where we see seven teens who share a bond gathered together by that river. In probably the most banal exposition ever, the school jock, Brandon (Nick Lashaway, great name!) tells the rest of the town’s teens (and the audience in the theater) that they are all together because they were all born the night the Ripper (such an original name) was killed. They supposedly gather annually to commemorate the demise of his deadly terror. A shy kid named Bug (Max Thieriot) is there with a load of scar tissue he doesn’t fully comprehend. He becomes extremely upset and bugged out (intended) , when it appears that the Ripper has actually returned with a catch….his soul has lived on and now is possibly contaminating one of the seven kids.
For reasons unexplained (which becomes Craven’s m.o.), Bug believes he’s to be the one to stop this dead Ripper once and for all. It matters not how he comes to that conclusion, just that along the way we see him learn the truth about his past. As he closely studies his friends for signs of possession, he becomes more and more weird. Unlike Mr. Craven, that’s about as far as I can go with this deplorably horrendous plot. Not because I don’t want to ruin it for you, but because it’s completely indecipherable and ultimately not worth trying. It is not even that confusing of a script, it’s just confused and as wooden as a 2X4. I basically just described the acting in this dismal insult to teens by a man who once had a strong handle on horror films.
I really want to believe that Craven had something grander in mind and somehow temporarily lost his marbles in the process. At least I hope so. There is a reason Universal held off on screening this colossal failure, before its release. It just drudges right along with one agonizing cliché after another. Viewers will welcome the obligatory teen killings as it becomes a hopeful indicator of the movie’s conclusion.
Craven used to give us characters that were at least funny or charismatic but here he settles for irritating, providing stock stereotypes to round out the cast of slasher-fodder victims. There’s the blonde babe (in reality, notsomuch) Brittany, the Jesus-freak, Penelope (one of the most atrocious and unrealistic portrayals of Christianity, if it can be called that), the jokester Alex, blind Jerome and Jake. There’s also a cranky Goth chick named Fang (Emily Meade) who has a somewhat interesting twist to her. Since each and every character here is laughable, it’s hard to even commend their attempts.
While the dialogue can be partly to blame, the bottom line is that all of these actors are painful to watch. Not a one would I sit and wonder what he or she is doing for their next project. I hope it’s possibly paying a little more for acting lessons. Who’s to blame for such a waste of time and money? The answer is Wes Craven. I have not seen him give any press for this movie yet. Boy, would I have some questions for him. His inaccurate tone and attempt at shock scares become stock tactics that have been used in the past by filmmakers who were trying to copy him.
For once, I would like to see a movie that starts out awful and then actually turns around and redeem itself. But that would take deliberation and talent, which this film has none of. Instead, the movie gets sloppier as it slogs along. It’s convoluted conclusion is one mess after another. A drawn-out final confrontation at Bug’s house results in family fisticuffs, arguments with friends and wrestling with the Ripper. I would need the storyboards to figure out what all went down. You get to the point where you just don’t care who the killer is, and that is an awful place to be in a horror film. I could go on and point out all the glaring flaws and inaccuracies but I just can’t bring myself to do it. My soul hurts just typing this.
Believe it or not, there is another element (or should I say dimension?) that drowns this film in a haze of complete dung. That would be the useless 3D that is slapped on in the same way “Clash of the Titans” third dimension has a waste. Now, “The Last Airbender” still holds steady with the worst 3D of the city, but right from the start it there was absolutely no reason for this movie to be in 3D. There were plenty of times I was so bothered by the tint of the glasses, that when I took them off, I hardly noticed any difference. Usually, in a situation like this I would encourage others to see it in 2D but I’m not even recommending anyone see this drivel. My mind wandered as it often does when I’m subjected to awful movies and I started to wonder if Craven knew he had a certified DOA flick. Did he just want to get this one in the can and focus on next Spring’s “Scream 4” or is he out of gas?
This movie confirms that Craven’s last good film was 2005’s “Red Eye” which was a welcome slight departure from the genre we’re used to seeing him in. I still wonder what happened here with Craven but honestly, I just don’t care. The voice-over on the trailer for this debacle says, “Wes Craven’s nightmares, have always come for your life. But this fall, they come for your soul”. Man, at least we finally get accurate marketing.
RATING: zero stars