31 Days of Horror: Film #20 MY SOUL TO TAKE
Horror master Wes Craven passed away on August 30th at the age of 76 after a fight with cancer. It was a sad day for horror fans and film lovers everywhere.
For this October I knew that I wanted to watch a Craven film that I’d not seen before. So I made the highly questionable decision to make that film 2010’s My Soul to Take, the director’s second-to-last directorial effort (the final film being Scream 4).
My Soul to Take came and went so quietly that it didn’t even register as much of a disappointment. I think people generally forgot about the film not long after its short stay in theatres. I also forgot about it until I was looking through IMDB for a Craven film unfamiliar to me. So, I went into the film blind, knowing only that it’s not viewed as one of the director’s finest.
In the film, a serial killer dies and his spirit is supposedly passed onto someone else. On the day of his death, seven babies are born. Now, 16 years later, those seven kids are being targeted by the curse/ghost/copycat of the killer. The film has some ideas in common with Craven’s two most famous films, Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Unlike those films, My Soul to Take… just isn’t very good.
It’s strange how unfrightening and silly most of the film’s scares are. The first kill happens so quickly, so unceremoniously, I thought it was part of an extended prank played by the kids. The film never gets much better from there. The thing is, while failing at what it intends to do, My Soul to Keep is still totally watchable. That’s thanks to the skill of Wes Craven and a well-drawn character at the center of the story.
While the plot and the killer fail to excite, the main character of Bug is something really interesting. Most slasher movies let you know who the safe guy/girl is right from the beginning. The “final girl” has a certain mold to her, you know? There will be surprises along the way, but usually the main character is safe. Bug – who is well-played by Max Thieriot – is unstable, a little bit slow, and just kind of odd. The film even lets you suspect that he is the killer. Bug’s an interesting character, one that was deserving of a better story, and he’s perhaps the best reason why the film is still somewhat entertaining.
The film is also host to multiple actors that would go onto bigger roles in the horror genre. Max Thieriot of Bates Motel impresses in the lead role. Hannibal’s Raul Esparza plays the serial killer that starts the whole thing off. And The Purge: Anarchy’s Frank Grillo plays the cop that killed the serial killer and is now faced with the new crimes.
Wes Craven made some stinkers in his career and My Soul to Take counts as one of them. He always seemed to bounce back from a disappointment with a better film next time, though. The Hills Have Eyes 2 was followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street. Vampire in Brooklyn was followed by Scream. Cursed and then Red Eye. And finally My Soul to Take would be followed by Scream 4. He was a hugely influential director -- both Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream would inspire horror films for years. My Soul to Take isn’t likely to ever be mentioned on a list of Craven’s best, but it does feature some of the elements that went into his best work. For fans, it’s still interesting and worth watching.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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