When Wes Craven’s name gets dropped, people listen. He has been around the horror block, directing such major fright flicks as Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and if he’s behind the camera, you can bet the film will have an aesthetically creepy, unsettling look to it. As a director, he has succeeded tremendously, but as a writer, his attempts have been hit and miss. Although he wrote the original Elm Street as well as the revitalization of that franchise, New Nightmare, and made an icon of its star, Freddy Krueger, he also wrote the silly People Under the Stairs and now My Soul to Take, a shoddy little slasher film that relies heavily on worn out horror tropes and fails to create anything new.
The story is typical of these types of things. There’s a legend in the town of Riverton of a schizophrenic psychopath who went on a killing spree years ago. He is now thought to be dead, though his body was never found. Now, sixteen years later, on the anniversary of that bloodbath, it seems the Riverton Ripper has returned and is targeting the seven children that were born that fateful night.
The characters are your usual batch of teen fodder: the jock, the hot girl, the innocent protagonist, his dorky friend and an overly religious girl who speaks in Biblical prophecy and is unafraid to die, so you just know she will. These archetypal characters are indicative of the whole movie. There isn’t a shred of originality or creativity to be found anywhere. As stated, it looks good thanks to Craven’s keen eye, but it too often settles for traditional horror spooks, like an overuse of fog and woodland settings.
If you’ve ever seen a horror movie, what I’m detailing to you is probably starting to sound mighty derivative. And it is. There are no surprises here, from the smallest of details to the largest of scares, all of which are telegraphed seconds in advance. There are no jumps, jolts or jitters in this deadweight of a horror film.
Despite its R rating, My Soul to Take feels like a watered down, superficial tween slasher film, more akin to crap like Cry Wolf or the Prom Night remake than a true exercise in terror. The dialogue is annoyingly hipster, the jokes are pathetically unfunny and many of the characters have an air of snobbery among them, as many high school teenagers do.
My Soul to Take opens with the prayer that gives the movie its title, a nonsensical prelude that shows how little thought went into the crafting of this story. It’s like Craven took bits and pieces of material left on the cutting room floor from A Nightmare on Elm Street and then glued them together to create this, but it doesn’t form any type of cohesive whole. There's no reason to sit through this and if you do, you will feel, like the characters, that a piece of your soul is being stripped away. My Soul to Take is that deadening.
My Soul to Take receives 1.5/5