Universal // 2010 // 107 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 8th, 2011
From the writer and director of A Nightmare on Elm Street andThe Last House on the Left.
Wes Craven makes his long awaited return to the directing chair with the Tiger Beat slasher dud My Soul To Take, written and directed by the master of horror and presented upon its initial theatrical run in 3-D. Unfortunately, the film sank like a stone at the box office but is awarded a brand new life on Blu-ray care of Universal Home Entertainment.
In 1994 the aptly named Riverton Ripper -- you see, he's a serial killer! -- ups and vanished into the local river after killing his pregnant wife. Sixteen years later the story catches up with seven kids who were all born on the same day that the infamous Ripper disappeared into the depths of those murky cold waters. One by one each of the teenagers (including a bunch actors I'd never heard of and never need to hear from again) start turning up dead and all signs point to the Riverton Ripper as the culprit.
Or is he?
(insert mysterious, brooding "Dum-Dum-Duuuuuuuuuum" music here)
Imagine if Steven Spielberg had directed Battlefield Earth -- only with severe brain damage and only one good eye -- and you have a fairly good idea of what it's like sitting through Wes Craven's My Soul To Take. Twice a man at the top of his game (the first time with the '80s modern horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street and again in the '90s with Scream and its sub par sequels), Craven directs (and writes!) My Soul To Take with as much originality and flair as Uwe Boll helming a commercial about hemorrhoid cream. It's hard to believe that the same man who gave us Freddy Krueger and helped reinvent the genre in the 1990s is behind this sloppy, dull and pointless cinematic turd.
I was stoically bored during My Soul To Take. B.O.R.E.D. Bored, bored, bored. Was it boring reading those last few words? Then welcome to My Soul To Take! A bad horror movie can be many things: cheesy, silly, unbelievable...any of those can still make for an interesting (if not high quality) fright flick. My Soul To Take is none of these things, opting instead to spell out every single solitary moment to the audience as if it assumed that everyone watching was missing ¾ of their brain. Didn't catch who killed who? Don't worry! My Soul To Take will explain everything in such excruciatingly laborious detail that you'll fall asleep just trying to keep up with the dragging plotlines and endless chatter by actors as intriguing as cheese mold.
The characters are all stock, interchangeable clichés of horror movie teens (the jerky jock, the stuck up girl, the nerd, etc.). No one in this cast is likeable; even the protagonist (Max Theiroit, Jumper) can't engage our imaginations because he appears to be half asleep during most of the film. The worst offender is Emily Meade (Assassination of a High School President) as Fang, the school clique's Goth leader. This is one of the worst performances in recent memory and every time she popped up on screen I wanted the Riverton Ripper to take her out with a chainsaw, a brain tumor, a banana peel...anything to just put her (and me!) out of misery.
As for the plot...wow. I mean really, WOW. This is one of the most mind numbingly incomprehensible films ever committed to celluloid. I had zero stake in any of these characters and found the whole "who is really the killer?" subplot to be a loose rip-off of Craven's far, far superior Scream series. All this storyline does is extended the film's already insufferable length to a near breaking point. Had I not been assigned the job to review this movie I would have turned it on before the halfway mark hit. It's never a good sign when the filmmakers feel the need to recap everything at the end of the film with flashbacks and voice over because, obviously, they didn't do a good job in the first place in explaining what happened.
Anyhow, I think you get the point. My Soul To Take sucks, period. End of story. I try to find at least something to praise in even the worst movies but am having a hard time coming up with anything good to say about My Soul To Take. The whole film smacks of bottom-of-the-barrel mediocrity and should be avoided at all costs.
My Soul To Take is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Hey, good news! Remember me complaining that I couldn't find a single good thing to say about My Soul To Take? I found it in this transfer! Universal has done a fine job of making sure this image is clean and crystal clear. Fans of the movie (read: some 13 year old loner in Paducah, KY) will certainly be happy that this movie sports solid colors and dark black levels. For the rest of us, it's just pouring perfume on a pig.
The soundtrack is presented in English in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround. Much like the transfer the audio portions are top notch -- there were many moments where the surround sounds were fully engaged and the ambient noises were prevalent and used often. Music, effects and dialogue are easily heard. Overall this is a great sound mix to a not-so-great movie. Also included are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
As if My Soul To Take weren't excruciating enough, Universal has included a few extra features to extend the pain including a commentary track by director Wes Craven and actors Max Thieroit, John Magaro and Emily Meade (slow and for diehard horror fans only), around 22 minutes of extended or deleted scenes, an alternate opening that would have done nothing to help the film, two alternate endings and some BD Live features.
I cannot stress how immensely boring My Soul To Take is. Everything here feels like bits and pieces from other horror movies, and not from good horror movies. Sometimes the critics do get it right and My Soul To Take deserves it's extraordinarily low rating on rottentomatoes.com. Wes Craven should hang his head in shame for this stinker which is even worse than his all time low, Deadly Friend (and that's really saying something).
In a nutshell: this is easily one of the worst films of the year.
Guilty on all counts of being the last thing a horror movie should be:
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Alternate Opening/Endings
* Deleted/Extended Scenes