In 2005, Wes Craven directed “Red Eye,” a ripping assassination thriller that allowed the filmmaker a rare chance to step away from horror and attack the challenge of generating chills from a different genre. The experiment didn’t last, and now Craven is back to dismal fright films with “My Soul to Take,” a particularly confused and wooden slasher feature that drags the director’s once mighty name back into the mire.
16 years ago, a terrible killer known as the Riverton Ripper was shot dead, revealing a supernatural presence that could carry on past the limitations of the flesh. Now it’s the anniversary of the killing, with seven teens born the night the Ripper was killed gathering to commemorate the end of his deadly reign. One of those youngsters is Bug (Max Thieriot), a shy kid with a closet full of secrets he’s yet to discover. On this special day, it appears the Ripper has returned, with his bloodthirsty soul possibly contaminating one of the lucky kids. Slowly comprehending the details of his horrific past, Bug decides he’s the one who must stop the Ripper, studying his friends for signs of demonic possession, or, at the very least, the use of a well-known knife utilized by the killer years ago.
“My Soul to Take” is a baffling movie to watch, and I’m not even sure if the above synopsis comes close to the plot Craven had rattling around his head before he committed this atrocity to paper. A celebrated intellectual, I’m positive Craven had something potent up his sleeve with this story -- some form of social metaphor or political commentary that would reveal itself over time. At least I hope so. As the film stands now, “My Soul to Take” is the work of a lunatic using his own feces to outline an uncomfortably abstract tale of ridiculous possession, brought to life through some of the most excruciatingly obvious and colossally stilted dialogue I’ve heard so far this year.
Craven doesn’t help matters by staging the picture with the embarrassed manner of a junior high play, with these abysmal actors waddling around much like wind-up robots, sharing what passes for exposition here before tripping out of frame. The ensemble is atrocious, with special thanks to Thieriot, who does an outstanding impression of a 2x4 as the allegedly tormented lead character. Truthfully, it’s all Craven’s fault, as he doesn’t even attempt to correct the harebrained tone of the movie as the “suspense” limps on, trying to cover his rear with shock scares, a few sprays of blood, and a completely useless 3D conversion that adds nothing to the experience. Unless of course you’re a format enthusiast who craves a chance to watch actors stew uncomfortably in impossible cinematic stupidity…in 3D!
The Ripper? Bug? Souls? Man oh man, it’s all a pile of rubbish, culminating in a last act household showdown where Bug confronts evil, the editor takes a nap, and Craven hastily steps away from the camera to sign a deal for “Scream 4,” thus securing his next job before this stinker hits multiplexes. I’d be more specific in my criticisms, but that would require an actual understanding of the events unfolding in this rancid picture. I’m certain Craven himself couldn’t even explain this baloney.