Wes Craven’s first original movie in twenty years and it is not his worst film, nor his best. It is in some ways a throwback slasher and in at her ways it’s a supernatural revenge movies similar (some might say too similar) to A Nightmare on Elm Street. The plot centers around a local legend called the Riverton Ripper. He was a serial killer, shot down but his body was never recovered after it fell into the river. Even weirder, seven children were born that night. Now they are all celebrating their sixteenth birthday. The legend goes that a piece of the Ripper’s soul went into each of them that night.
Bug, our hero, was born out of the Ripper’s last victim as she died. One thing the movie dos have going for it is that Max Thieriot gives a very good performance as Bug. He’s the most unbalanced of the group and is treated like a ticking time bomb because he is actually the Ripper’s child, as is revealed later on.
Now that the Riverton Seven are celebrating their birthdays, the Ripper has apparently returned and has begun to pick them off one by one. Which starts happening in fairly rapid succession. Now, one of the things Craven does well here is giving each of the seven a distinct personality. These are all very different kids and they feel realistic and even the ones who appear to be caricatures at first (the jock, the bitch, the religious nut) show another side of themselves at some point that is necessary in order to take them seriously. Having said that, we don’t spend nearly enough time with each of them as we should. Bug is our lead, and that’s understandable, but it wouldn’t hurt to spend a bit more time with them here and there.
While large elements of the plot seem borrowed from Nightmare on Elm Street (and some, awkwardly enough, from Shocker as well) there are elements of Scream in there as well. The Scream franchise had been his biggest hit, after all, since the last movie he had written himself and so there are some frequent scenes of the killer on the phone with the potential victims. The structure of Scream also makes its way in here, as we’re never sure who the killer is and there’s a bit of a guessing game as we make our way to the end of the film. The killer’s reveal is handled fairly well, but the showdown itself is a bit of a mess.
The movie has some original ideas, particularly the sharing of souls. But it does not do all that much with him. There are weird things in the movie, weird choices made, in particular there’s a strange fetish with the California condor. There’s something about that bird that crosses a line from symbolism when it makes its way into almost every scene in the film.
Ultimately, My Soul to Take is a melting pot of great ideas that should have been narrowed down. It’s everything plus the kitchen sink and therefore lacks a strong focus that it sorely needed. It’s great to see Craven back working with his own material, but it could have used some more time to hash out exactly what that material would be.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Wes Craven
Writer(s): Wes Craven
Stars: Max Thieriot, Denzel Whitaker, Raul Esparza
Studio/ Production Co: Relativity Media, Rogue Pictures
Sub-Genre: Mystery, Thriller