Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Happened to Craven's "Soul"?

My Soul to Take (2010)
107 min., rated R.
Grade: D -

Wes Craven makes his return to directing his own scripts, and "My Soul to Take" doesn't make the cut. It's a worthless, muddled, ridiculous teen slasher flick with mystical mumbo-jumbo. The plot is a messy wannabe of "A Nightmare on Elm Street": seven children are born on the same night as the supposed death of small-town killer, the Riverton Ripper, with the souls of his multiple personalities in one of the kids. Or is the Ripper really back for revenge sixteen years later? With the Riverton Seven's birthdays ahead, Bug, yeah, Bug (Max Thieriot) starts seeing the souls in bathroom mirrors and discovers he may be a lot closer to the killings than he thinks. Or something like that. 

Craven doesn't write all of his teen characters as stereotypes (point!), but gives them clunky, desperately “hip” dialogue (“Wake up and smell the Starbucks!”), inscrutable actions without motivation, and none of the flat performers are standouts. And for some reason, everyone seems to enter houses through windows and listen to the radio news like it's a ritual. Far worse, Craven's story is so incoherent, and spoken through so much expository dialogue that some characters even have to recap what happened a few scenes ago. The Ripper has nothing on Freddy Krueger, except an interchangeable voice, but instead looks like Rob Zombie dressed up as a Hagrid and Predator combo. The “gotcha” scares and kills are weak, and there's little suspense with a predictable “Luke, I am your father” red herring and “Scooby Doo” twists. But the movie does have a few oddball ideas scattered throughout (Bug creates an elaborate California Condor bird costume for biology class with vomit and urination functions), and it's full of overly earnest howlers (point 2 for Craven!). 

The cash-cow 3-D gimmick doesn't add anything except a surcharge and further proof that the comeback of 3-D is unnecessary. Has Craven lost his horror mojo since he last wrote and directed in 1994 (the smart, inventive "New Nightmare") or was he too preoccupied with "Scream 4"? Sad but true, "My Soul to Take" is a true soul-taking nightmare in any dimension. 

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