PLOT: On the sixteenth anniversary of the night an infamous serial killer known as The Ripper was supposedly killed, seven teenagers who were born that very night begin to suspect that the the murderer has returned to the town of Riverton to knock them off. However, it just might be that one of them is now The Ripper reincarnated...
REVIEW: MY SOUL TO TAKE is a movie both sad and funny. Sad because it exposes a veteran filmmaker - who, while never truly great has always shown a penchant for nifty ideas and clever gags - as someone without more tricks up his sleeve, and funny because... well, it's pretty f*cking hilarious sometimes.
The movie opens with a dizzying, rushed sequence in which family man Abel Plenkov (Raúl Esparza) discovers that he is in fact the Riverton Ripper, a knife-wielding serial killer plaguing the town; more accurately, one of Abel's multiple personalities is the Ripper - Abel's a troubled dude. Bad timing, this revelation, as his wife is on the verge of giving birth and the Ripper wants to party. After some frantic arguing with himself, the evil personality takes over completely and carnage ensues, even as the town's (mostly useless) coppers burst upon the scene. One ambulance crash and forced C-section later, the mortally wounded killer disappears into the river, and the baby - it's a miracle! - comes out alive.
Sixteen years later, we learn said baby wasn't the only one sprung that fateful night. Six others also happened to be born, and all these years later it's apparently all they can think about, as evidenced by a bizarre ritual the teens engage in on their birthdays involving standing by the site of the Ripper's supposed escape and verbally conjuring him out of the river, which then leads to symbolically "slaying" a dummy made out to look like the killer (yeah, it's weird). Every year, a different one of the kids must take down the fake fiend, and this year it's Bug's turn. But because Bug (Max Theriot) is a spaz and a coward, he can't even bring himself to confront the dummy... of course meaning that now the Ripper has been provoked and is ready to take care of business. But is he real, or will he return within one of the Riverton Seven's souls?
I'm going to stop here because, honestly, the plot even gets more confounding and silly as it goes along, and I've only just described the first ten minutes. The screenplay was written by a man who has gone to the well one too many times and can't recapture the same sense of fairy tale-gone-awry he was once able to. Craven attempts to fashion a gothic lore in MY SOUL TO TAKE similar to NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (and, to some degree, SHOCKER), but Riverton isn't Springwood, the Ripper ain't Freddy, and these kids sure as hell aren't Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp. Not to dump on them; they're all vaguely attractive, capable and enthusiastic... but not the least bit memorable. (Aside from "Bug", you'll be hard-pressed to even remember any of the characters' names.)
However, the cast can only do so much with lines such as, "Wake up and smell the Starbucks." Yes, Craven thinks teenagers in 2010 say things like that, and almost all of his dialogue is similarly tone-deaf and DOA - when it's not inspiring chuckles and knee-slaps from the audience. (My screening contained more laughs per minute than most comedies.) Obviously, Wes should not be writing for young adults, but considering the ridiculous logic and superficial "twists" in MY SOUL TO TAKE, he shouldn't be writing scripts, period. Some sequences are so mind-bogglingly dumb (just wait for the beatdown Bug receives from a girl) that I found myself wondering if I was already watching the SCARY MOVIE spoof of MY SOUL TO TAKE... Craven the Director can still dish out a decent jump-scare or two, though much of the movie's atmosphere and design feels like SCREAM-Lite. There are even drawn-out scenes involving talking to the killer on a cell phone. C'mon, Wes...
I guess the only thing left to mention is the 3D, and unsurprisingly, it's barely noticeable - so much so that at one point I took off my glasses and saw almost no difference, just a hint of blurriness. As with most post-conversion products, the most impressive 3D can be found in the opening and closing credits.
Those closing credits are a blessing when they come, because MY SOUL TO TAKE is an unfortunate mess from start to finish.