In his almost 40-year Hollywood career, Wes Craven has been responsible for some of horror’s best-known titles. Some of those have become genre classics (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream), while others are remembered—or forgotten—for more notorious reasons (Deadly Friend, Shocker). Unfortunately, My Soul to Take falls into the latter category—and not by a little bit either; this may be the most poorly-written, convoluted, confusing, contradictory film I’ve seen this year; it’s without doubt the worst horror film I’ve seen in 2010.
On the blood-splattered night he was killed by police, Riverton, Massachusetts serial killer Abel Plenkov (Raúl Esparza)—aka The Ripper—vowed to someday return and kill the seven children born that same night. Now, sixteen years later, those seven children are being gruesomely murdered one by one; it’s unclear if one of those seven is possessed by Abel’s soul or if Abel never actually died. One of the children, a troubled teen named Bug (Max Thieriot) with a dark and violent past, harbors the answers. That synopsis makes My Soul To Take sound overly simplistic, but further details would waste as much time as the film itself.
Besides its other problems, Soul also suffers a cast of unlikable, incompletely-drawn characters. None of these actors is particularly convincing as 16-year-old high schoolers, either, but that probably owes more to a poor script and subpar direction as opposed to poor performances. In any case, these aren’t believable people, but rather, they’re stereotypes and caricatures whose motives and personalities contradict themselves from scene to scene. I never cared about any of them, leading to, perhaps, the film’s single greatest flaw: it’s not scary; there’s no tension; no suspense; no vitality—all of which are unforgivable in a horror movie.
Moreover, this film’s 3D conversion is abhorrent and it’s painfully clear it wasn’t shot with 3D in mind. That aspect elevates Soul from a mere embarrassment to a shameful price gouge. I don’t know if Craven had a say in the film’s conversion, but someone should be ashamed.
Wes Craven can do better than this. Then again, perhaps that’s why Soul is the first film he’s written and directed since 1994’s New Nightmare. As I speculated after watching Soul’s trailer, perhaps Craven’s running out of ideas; or maybe he does his best work these days when focusing on only one part of the moviemaking process. Whatever the case, his fans have a right to expect better; horror fans have a right to expect better; anybody who appreciates good storytelling has a right to expect better. And My Soul to Take is certainly not, in any sense, good storytelling—or even competent storytelling. Skip it at all costs.
Monotonous, inconsistent storytelling, unlikable, caricature-like characters and the year's worst script make this a complete piece of garbage.