My Soul to Take is about as soulless as a movie can get. It’s as if Wes Craven, longing for the days of old when his slasher flicks reigned supreme, made a film designed only to appeal to those same old tropes and ideas. Poorly acted and executed, not only is the plot bare bones, it also makes very little sense. Craven seems to have fallen into the trap of long exposition and boring scares, leaving a film that is uninspired, failing to fulfill its most basic roll of b-film entertainment.
For those who need to know about the tripe before consumption, rumors in the small town of Riverton tell of the Ripper, a man who slaughtered his victims with a blade etched with the word “vengeance.” Oddly, everyone knows who he is and what he did, yet people act all nervy and stupid, as if they don’t know who the killer was. Even sillier is that Riverton is a small town so everyone seems to know each other and what goes on; so it makes no sense that there is some sort of urban legend about the guy. He killed a bunch of people, was pretty well documented, yet there are people all spooked by him.
Anyway, when the reel starts up, the audience is immediately introduced to Abel Plankov (Raul Esparza), a schizophrenic man who not only guts his pregnant wife but nearly slaughters his own daughter. The beginning 15 minutes are probably the most exciting and frightening moments of the film, and the horror of unknown personal actions are not only interesting and terrifying, but they could have been a foundation for a decent horror film.
Anyway, Abel is apparently dead (maybe? I dunno, the film is stupidly ambiguous), his prematurely born son Adam and daughter Leia are adopted off to their aunt. That night was special, as not only did this slaughter come to a conclusion, but seven children were born. We find the seven, 16 years later, standing on the riverside in an elaborate hocus pocus ritual to stave off the Ripper, a great way to start a birthday celebration apparently. All strangely suspect that the souls of schizophrenic Abel have been manifested in the seven, and some terrible end is going to happen to them all.
As for the seven, we have Adam, the Ripper’s own son, now going by the name of Bug (Max Thieriot). He’s a little loopy, may or may not have killed someone, and seems to have spent time in a psych ward. The other six round out any sort of stereotype teens you might need. There’s snotty Brittany (whose blond hair and uptight demeanor apparently makes her desirable and popular), the very fundamentalist and beautiful red head Penelope, who makes the oddest/best quote of the film: ”when it gets hot, just turn on the prayer conditioning,” the Asian goofball Alex, a blind black kid named Jerome, the dysfunctional Alex, and the douche jock Brandon. They all fulfill their roles in oddly acted form. Thankfully, they actually look like they might be 16 years old, a rarity in these sorts of films.
Anyway, with this many personalities, and only 90 minutes, Craven spends his time forcing his characters rambling useless dialogue. Assumptions are made, the Ripper slashes some throats, and teenagers die. It’s hard to hate or like anyone, as they all seem to have a weird fluid teen hierarchy where one moment they are all super best friends, and the next they hate each other.
Plot points and character elements are introduced helter skelter, and almost immediately dropped. Brandon impregnates the principal’s daughter. Alex has a jerk step-dad, and (surprise!) his mom is dead. Jerome is blind and no explanation is given. Bug’s sister Leia now calls herself Fang and is 19 years old in high school. Apparently these things are supposed to mean something, but they are uttered in such weird moments that they only serve to bring dead weight to the film.
And the 3D should be mentioned. While other reviewers have indicated the 3D does nothing for the film, I found it to be largely inoffensive. It’s all done in post-production, and neither adds to or detracts to the experience. The steeper price tag for the film should be your deciding factor if you decide to waste two hours of your life, and you should know that there is very little that pops out of the screen.
There is nothing particularly good about My Soul to Take. There is such empty characterization that it goes above and beyond the norm of bad horror films. This is an immediately forgettable horror film, and Craven should be grateful that no viewer will remember My Soul to Take 15 minutes after the credits roll.