13 February 2011
My Soul to Take 2010 - REVIEW
Sometimes I wonder if reviewing films has warped my ability to just sit and watch something without over analyzing or picking it apart in some form or another. What if I didn't have to pay attention to the cinematography or the score or the lines of dialogue? Would I then be able to just sit and watch and enjoy? I remember being young and going to the movies and mindlessly watching what's in front of me and not really caring if it was good or not as long as it entertained me. I look at most films today and all I can think is "What a bunch of shit." Have films really gotten that bad or have I just gotten too old to be able to appreciate it the same way? Then along comes My Soul to Take.
In Riverton there is a legend of a serial killer known as The Ripper who swore revenge on the seven children born the night he died. 16 years later, people are being murdered again. Has The Ripper been reincarnated as one of the seven teens, or did he survive the night he supposedly died, hiding in the forest waiting to exact his revenge? Only one of the kids knows the answer. Bug (Max Thieriot), one of the seven born that night, is plagued by terrifying visions of his murdered friends but is unable to tell if they are true or just a figment of his imagination. If he hopes to save his friends from The Ripper, he'll have to face an evil that won't stop until it finishes what it started.
Not a completely new concept but it's a good enough foundation to build on. Unfortunately Wes Craven, who I love by the way, (I'm sorry Wes) didn't succeed at constructing this one. The first 20 minutes or so set the bar pretty high. There was the reveal of a mild mannered family man to be a town's serial killer, The Ripper, who just wouldn't die with some good performances by Raul Esparza and Harris Yulin and a pretty intense showdown of good and evil. Then a not so great scene involving a ritual or right of passage where "The Riverton 7" get together on their birthdays to face The Ripper (in puppet form) and knock him down sending him back to his watery grave. After that there's a pretty decent Cravenesque bridge scene. All of which showcased the potential for this to be a classic Craven horror/thriller but unfortunately, that's about as good as it gets.
Among many other things, MSTT suffers from one of the most unlikeable casts I've seen in a horror in a long time. I didn't buy Nick Lashaway as the bully/jock of the group and the Fang (Emily Meade) character was so unbelievably ridiculous. I don't know about you but I never encountered anyone in high school who ran a criminal enterprise out of the girl's bathroom. It was hard enough to believe that these 20 somethings were teenagers but to throw things in a script just to fill time and confuse the viewer is inexcusable to me. Especially from someone who for almost 40 years has been passing out nightmares like they were candy. Not only are we asked to believe that Bug is this completely clueless, naive 16 year old but Craven also wants us to think that a bitch like Fang has never muttered a word to him about his past? And don't even get me started on the blind kid, Jerome (Denzel Whitaker), who not only treks through the dense woods all on his own but climbs into 2 story windows in the middle of the night. It's unfathomable that any of these "teenagers" would even talk to each other much less gather once a year and make nice. Craven has filled this script with not only plot holes big enough to drive a semi through but character holes as well. No one other than Bug is ever explored deep enough for you to give two shits whether they get maimed or murdered and some of them will leave you hoping they are.
This is Wes Craven’s first film since Red Eye in 2005, and his first as both a writer and director since New Nightmare in 1994. He brings in a few of his iconic touches but most of them you won't see unless you watch the bonus features. It's just so unfortunate that MSTT is nothing more than big budget entertainment for teens which I have no doubt they will find visually stimulating. Hell, I sat through it twice just so I could see what the reactions of my teens would be and of course they loved it. Why wouldn't they? What teen really cares about plot points and story structure? It's apparent that this was his target audience. Throw a bunch of semi-hot (sorry) teens on the screen and kill them off in not so glorious ways and you've got a film that the teenage crowd will line up to see. Too bad it was so bogged down with dialogue and insignificant information that most of them probably left scratching their heads.
I will be honest and admit that after a second viewing, I did "get it" a little better but still not enough make me a fan. Sorry Wes!