My Soul to Take DVD Review
Written and Directed by Wes Craven
2010, Region 2 (PAL), 107 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 4th April 2011
Max Thieriot as Bug
John Magaro as Alex
Denzel Whitaker as Jerome
Zena Grey as Penelope
Nick Lashaway as Brandon
Paulina Olszynski as Brittany
Jeremy Chu as Jay
Emily Meade as Fang
With Scream 4 on the horizon, and the rest of the franchise behind him, it’s hard to understand why Wes Craven felt the need to churn out another serial killer movie. Seems like the movie-going public feels the same, as My Soul to Take has the dubious honour of the lowest opening weekend of any 3D movie (not content with a pointless serial killer film, it was converted to pointless 3D in post production for cinema release).
In the small American town of Riverton, a serial killer known as the Riverton Ripper is killed and vows to return and take the lives of the seven children born on the night of his death. How he knows about them is beyond me, as he dies nowhere near the maternity ward of the local hospital. As they grow up, the kids hold an annual ritual in which they ‘cast out’ an effigy of The Ripper, believing this to keep them safe (and it’s an excuse for some good, old-fashioned rowdy behaviour). On the eve of their 16th birthdays – this is handy because now we’re in teen-horror territory, way to hit the demographic Wes – archetypal odd-kid Bug gets spooked on ritual night and wimps out on kicking the papier-mâché Ripper’s butt. Does this now mean the Ripper will return to claim their souls or has his evil spirit inhabited one of the teens?
Does anyone care?
I mentioned Scream 4 earlier, and this could quite easily have been another sequel in that franchise. Who knows, maybe Craven wanted to write and direct number four but this script wasn’t up to the job. Not surprising really, as there’s a tangible lack of tension in MSTT and, coming from a director who has made his name with some tense horror movies, that’s a real shame. Looking back at Scream, it broke the mould for teen-horror with its introspective view on the genre, yet this movie delivers exactly the kind of sub-standard dross that Scream poked fun at.
Our killer, in the brief glimpses we catch, looks like a left-over from Craven’s The People Under the Stairs – all white of face and straggly-haired. Once he begins his rampage, the movie enters very formulaic stalk-and-slash territory, which only serves as a vehicle to get to the final reveal where the killer is exposed. There are a few minor twists along the way that only seem to be there for the sake of having twists, and the young cast does a reasonable job in carrying the movie to its ultimate, rather saccharin, ending. The main problem with the film is that the script thrashes about wildly between being a supernatural chiller and a very, very standard serial killer flick. Everything you've seen before, and nothing you really want to see again.
My Soul to Take is an extremely average teen-horror yarn from a director whose name once carried weight in the genre. If this is the best that Wes Craven can deliver, then I’m sorry to say that he’s lost his mojo. I can only hope it's a double-bluff to improve the reception to Scream 4. If it is, bravo Mr Craven, but I rather suspect this is indicative of what's to come.
Video and Audio:
The DVD is presented in 1.78:1 and has a fairly average picture quality. The nightime scenes are solid, although blacks are rarely pure and tend towards a deep brown. Audio is available in either 2.0 or 5.1 Dolby Surround, the latter doing little to impress.
An audio commentary with Wes Craven and some of the lead cast members is available to accompany the film. There is also a collection of extended and deleted scenes, none off which really add much to the direction of the story, if taken into account. There are a couple of alternative endings and an alternative opening, again these would do little to improve the film. Finally there is a trailer for the main feature.