Wes Craven has been making horror movies for nearly 40 years. When you hear someone call a horror movie cliché, probably what they’re really saying is that the movie does it the Wes Craven way. Craven revolutionized the horror genre and spawned so many copycats that his horror method is no longer his own, it’s a tired cliché, even when he does it. He does it again in My Soul To Take, a movie that’s really not much more than a collection of the usual, lame, horror movie misdirections but at least these familiar misdirections are directed by the guy who knows them best.
That doesn’t really excuse some of the movie’s lazier moments, of course, but it does mean that the worn out old serial killer who jumps out of nowhere bit is at least handled well. And that’s really all this movie boils down to, a guy with a knife jumping out of thin air. Sure it’s in 3D, even though it’s barely used, and sure there’s a half-hearted attempt to discover something deeper and suspense filled in the story of a serial killer returned from the grave… maybe. In the end though, this is just another Wes Craven kills kids running around in the woods movie.
16-years ago in the town of Riverton a crazed serial killer murdered everyone he loved, only to be killed himself. We only know it’s 16 years ago because the movie flashes up text which tells us so, though the film doesn’t actually bother to create anything period specific. Apparently even 16 years ago everyone drove modern cars and wore fairly modern looking clothes. You’d think Craven could have at least piped in a little Nirvana or something. But this is a movie aimed primarily at modern teenagers and I suppose he assumed they aren’t interested in the past and don't know what the 90s looked like even if they were.
Flash forward to the present, which looks exactly the same as the past, and seven kids who were born on the night the Riverton Ripper died are now coming into their own. Each year they memorialize the serial killer’s rampage on the night of his death, and the seven kids who were born when he died live in fear that he’ll return, maybe even by using one of them as his vessel. Their fear is based on a legend of vaguely defined origins, but it’s never clear why after 16 years anyone would still think that. It doesn’t matter.
This movie exists mostly to have teenagers running around getting killed and it does that well, if you’ve never seen a Wes Craven movie before. I imagine one of the teenagers this movie seems to want in its audience being pretty thrilled by most of these events, because they haven’t seen as many horror movies as the rest of us. There is some element of suspense, even for the savvy horror fan, as the movie plays guess who the killer is. But the killer only remains a mystery because the film never provides any real clues as to who he is, except to hint that our main character, Bug, should probably be committed.
Bug is played by Max Theriot who, believe it or not, does sweet but crazy really well. Much of his performance seems based on a pretty good imitation of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. What Andy Serkis pulled off as that CGI character is no small achievement, even if you’re just duplicating it, and especially when your director is Wes Craven, a man not exactly known for subtlety. At least Bug’s character is consistent, which is more than can be said for anyone else in this movie.
What Craven is known for horror movies like this one. It’s a Wes Craven movie through and through. He’s still making them, after all these years, and outside of Red Eye doesn’t seem interested in using a new bag of tricks. Sure My Soul To Take is derivative and predictable, and yeah to be honest the big reveal at the end doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s handled by the guy who made derivative and predicable what it is. Wes Craven does that better than just about anyone.