My Soul To Take (2010)
Seven children are born the night a schizophrenic serial killer disappears. 16 years later, the kids begin to meet grisly ends, seemingly at the hands of the same killer.
Written and directed by genre kingpin Wes Craven, expectations could understandably be high. That said, Craven has some serious misfires in his cannon including the awful Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (1984) and the only-marginally-better Shocker (1989). Unfortunately this latest effort falls into that kind of category.
You always hope to see at least flashes of good form, given whose sitting in the directorial chair, but in the end are left wanting. This is all the more disappointing because there are some interesting ideas explored here; those of multiple personality, a soul harbinger and the duplicity of the human with the natural world.
To be fair to Craven’s film, it starts off reasonably well with a fast-paced – and unpredictable – multiple murder scene. But beyond this bravado opening, the film descends into a mix of teen melodrama and gutter slasher movie. The screenplay spends far too much time concentrating on teen-angst and not enough on the backstory or horror of our spectral ripper. Despite the dedication of the film to the cardboard teen characters before our eyes, the scripted dialogue is tedious and the characterisations gloriously unimaginative. I mean our lead actors are so wooden they could have starred alongside ol’ Chief wooden-top in “Creepshow 2”. It’s a real shame that the almost shape-shifting character actor Harris Yulin only appears so briefly as Dr Blake because the movie suffers manifestly from a lack of a strong adult lead.
What we do get in abundance is pale imitations of Craven’s formidable back-catalogue. The plot alone bears more than a passing resemblance to his best work in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) whilst the importance of the telephone in setting up the set-piece murders recalls the daddy of slasher satire, 1996’s “Scream”. These are all things that Craven has shown us before and it’s as if the great director has simply snoozed his way through the picture, dropping little nods to his and others’ work here and there. The best part of the movie is the screen-time – all 5 seconds of it – afforded to Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (1963). There is also a kind of homage to the vintage wardrobe scene from “Halloween” (1978), although it isn’t particularly note-worthy.
By the time you get to the end, the so-called twist is patently obvious and somewhat strained, which sums up the whole 90 minutes really. Points earned here are for the first 5 minutes and a passable performance from Max Thierot as the troubled teen posing all the questions.
Hotdog rating: 3/10