What’s surprising is that this is actually something of a decent setup for a horror film. It’s not particularly original or without its faults, but the basic plot had potential for a few scares if executed properly. Unfortunately, what’s made it to the screen is just really, really stupid. Everything from the horrible acting to the nonsense story to the killer and his ridiculous outfit—it all screams “trainwreck.”
I’m not even sure where to start. The characters are vacuous entities so defined by high school clichés that it’s painful to watch. It’s obvious that Craven hasn’t interacted with a real teenager in years, at least that’s what I’m assuming based on all the outdated references to Starbucks and cell phones. For the most part, the young actors aren’t seasoned or charismatic enough to overcome the script’s shortcomings. And don’t get me started on all the horrible metaphors and imagery strewn recklessly throughout, from the bizarre stuff about condors to the angel wings metaphorically cut in to the heroes back at the end. It’s the kind of first-draft level stuff that doesn’t belong in a feature film.
While the story suffers, the scares are also rendered just as badly. The killer is a joke; dressed like a lame scarecrow and about as terrifying as one. His idiotic laugh, “vengeance” inscripted knife, and poorly crafted backstory don’t help matters much. To make matters worse, the kills are equally as boring and uninventive and the scares are nonexistent. Even the killer’s tagline—“Fear ye the Ripper!”—elicits more laughs than chills.
What happened to Wes Craven? Previously, we could blame his recent output on crappy scripts or studio interference, but MY SOUL TO TAKE was written and directed by the man and, according to interviews, he seems to be proud of it. It boggles the mind and makes horror fans weep in disappointment almost as much as MUSIC OF THE HEART.
Alternate Opening (1:33): Wow, this is even worse than anything else in the movie. Adam sleeps in his bed before a giant knife cuts a hole in his wall and a hand comes out of it.
Alternate Endings (3:57): Two different takes on the finale, neither are better than what we got. My favorite: “If The Ripper comes for us 24/7, we’ll fight him 25/8!”
Deleted Scenes (21:45): There’s quite a bit here. Another version of the puppet scene gives what appears to be an earlier, even worse version of the Ripper costume. The rest mostly just show off more of the horrible acting and writing, including one segment where expositive narration literally explains everything. This makes it obvious the filmmakers had no idea where they wanted the story to go and did some reshoots.
Extra Tidbit: This movie holds the record for the lowest opening of a 3D film in history.