Blu-Ray Review: Tragic Tale of Talent Wasted on ‘My Soul to Take’

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CHICAGO – You won’t find many critics who adore Wes Craven with as much horror-fan glee as this one. From the ’70s to the mid-’90s (from “The Last House on the Left” to at least the first “Scream” movie with the exception of the awful “Vampire in Brooklyn”), the man was one of the best genre directors alive. And he proved his range with an old-fashioned, effective thriller like “Red Eye” that hinted at another chapter. Blu-Ray Rating: 0.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 0.5/5.0

Then came “Cursed,” a mess of a film that seemed easy to blame on studio interference. The promise of “My Soul to Take” as it went through production under the unusually-intriguing title “25/8” was palpable for horror fans. A new film written and directed by a master of the genre. The result is one of the biggest disappointments in years for this horror fans, the worst movie that Wes Craven has ever made.

My Soul to Take was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 8th, 2011
My Soul to Take was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 8th, 2011
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

Where does one begin to tear apart “My Soul to Take”? The “greatest hits” script that draws together elements of superior films that Craven has made in the past (including “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream”) that makes it feel like an imitation of a great horror writer/director instead of something actually created by one? The nonsensical plot that makes “Shocker” look downright plausible? The complete and total lack of scares? There’s not one in the film. Not one.

My Soul to Take was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 8th, 2011
My Soul to Take was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 8th, 2011
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

Characters that are impossible to care about because Craven has written a film with NO HERO? We never know if the lead is a maniac or a victim. Shouldn’t Craven know better? We need someone to care about. “My Soul to Take” could be the first horror movie with no real protagonist or antagonist because neither is defined until the final scenes and even then are left as question marks.

The film opens with the murders of the legendary Riverton Ripper, a serial killer who is captured and killed on the same night that seven children are born in the small town. Sixteen years later, the Ripper has become an urban legend in no small part due to the fact that seven teens share a birthday with the day he was caught. As someone dressed as the Ripper starts killing off the teens, questions arise — Has the original Ripper returned? Has his soul taken over one of the children born that day? Is something else going on? As kids die, fingers come back to the awkward Bug (Max Theriot), a young man with some clear mental issues and a dark past.

The small town teen vibe of “Scream” (and the way a past crime spree relates to the current murders) is the elephant in the room of “My Soul to Take” and the idea of vengeance on the next generation is clearly reminiscent of “Elm Street.” If you’re going to remind viewers of two of your best films at nearly every turn, you better deliver the goods. You’re setting the bar high. And “My Soul to Take” doesn’t just fall WAY under that bar but it makes one reconsider the talents of the man who set it in the first place. This is a total disaster that is scary only in what it says about how far a filmmaker can fall. The only joy I can take from “My Soul to Take” is that at least I didn’t have to see it in forced 3D as it played in theaters. I’ll take that small victory and try and move on.

Special Features:
o Alternate Opening
o Alternate Endings
o Deleted and Extended Scenes
o Feature Commentary with Director Wes Craven and Cast Members Max Theriot, John Magaro and Emily Meade

“My Soul to Take” stars Max Theriot, John Magaro, Denzel Whitaker, and Shareeka Epps. It was written and directed by Wes Craven. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 8th, 2011. It is rated R and runs 108 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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