My Soul to Take (2010)

Wes Craven's My Soul to TakeReviewed by Nomad

Starring Max Thieriot, Emily Meade, Raul Esparza, Denzel Whitaker, John Magaro

Directed by Wes Craven

There are telltale items put into a commercial that make die-hard horror fans shy away from a newly released movie. One of these is teens. It generally means there will be indiscriminate boob flashing and boys taking off their shirts (AKA male boob flashing) and dumb moments designed specifically to get victims under the blade. The next offending item is 3D, often used to drive up a ticket price and nothing more. With those two weapons of mass distraction up their sleeve, Rogue set out to make a trailer with a chain of typical teen horror movie images tailor made to make us groan, all at once, as a collective spirit of horror vengeance. “WHYYYY??!” Then I went to see the damn thing and was so happy with what was dancing before me, I had a perma-grin the whole time. WHAT A TWIST!!

My Soul to Take centers around a town that looks just like yours and mine, filled with seemingly normal people. Little did anyone realize they had a serial killer living among them. When the fiend reveals himself, he is quickly apprehended and, in a last blast of spectacular violence, takes out a handful of people as he goes down himself. Flash-forward 16 years, and seven children born on the very day of said psycho’s death do their best to live normal lives in a high school ruled with an iron, well-manicured fist by an ultra-bitch called FANG (Meade), but this year the man who was dubbed the Riverton Reaper has returned and is cutting a swath through the kids … one by one.

Wes Craven's My Soul to TakeI haven’t had this much fun with a cast for quite some time. Thieriot plays Bug with a pitch perfect mixture of fifty percent insane glee and fifty percent sheepish, closeted, awkward teen. To offset Bug’s personality, we have his best friend, Alex (Magaro), who is sort of like an updated version of a circa The Breakfast Club Judd Nelson. Together the two chew up the screen and make the time fly by. Then there’s Fang, who not only has an awesome name for a girl who terrorizes a high school with her small army of jock and cheerleader followers, but plays the character to the furthest extents of teen evil. She is all bark and all bite. The type of girl who’ll punch you in the throat when you aren’t looking. Honorable mention goes to Zena Grey’s holy roller character Penelope, who spits out the most amazingly funny and yet believable religious streams of thought so unexpectedly that she’ll leave you rolling. I also have to give a nod to Nick Lashaway, who plays the PERFECT dumb jock enforcer whose every glance sent me into hysterics.

Visually, My Soul to Take is beautiful. Working with the stereotypical trappings of a teen movie can be difficult. There’s the high school, the forest that seems to be all around the town, and the house of the main character. Shots of school hallways play up themes of loneliness among hundreds of people with long expanses of lockers interrupted by hidden openings to classrooms, from which a body could suddenly pop out. The forest is turned into a murky pit of no return by night and an endless maze where one could easily lose his way by day. You get the feeling that a corpse could be slumped around any tree, and those walking the same trail they do every day would be oblivious to it. Bug’s home has a way of mirroring the certain, uneasy nature of his relationship with his mother with plenty of dark spaces, even when well lit. They manage to hide a character there until later in the film without even doing so deliberately!

Wes Craven's My Soul to TakeThe one astounding thing about this flick is that, while you are obviously presented with a sort of mystery in who might be the killer or is it a supernatural entity, the film doesn’t force you to make up your mind. You are given a shred of evidence in the movie’s opening, along with a series of crazy fake-outs with our main baddie, suggesting he MIGHT be unstoppable. But that’s a big might.

For the duration of the film we have a spotlight on Bug who, more often than not, seems a little off his rocker. Obviously he is the killer, right? No self-respecting horror buff would go right for the obvious killer! You’ll be left guessing the whole movie, but it’s not like anyone will be hammering red herrings over your head to the point of distraction. The viewer is left in peace to enjoy the ride, and it is one hell of one. I wasn’t entirely happy with the film’s finale, but that opinion is more based on my dream they might take the finale to the extreme SHOCKER style! Alas, they do not, and I’ll shut my mouth before I give anything away.

I’d like to begin my closing rant by saying that this film has no right to be awesome. The plot is not anything groundbreaking and contains some recycled Craven themes here and there. The supernatural-ish bad guy isn’t very scary, the kills are of the minimalist variety, and shockingly enough there are no boobs. Where My Soul to Take succeeds is within its writing and its execution. The teens, who actually look like honest to God teens, speak as teens speak … without hurting your head of course. The witty back and forth banter carries you through the flick with the crackerjack timing of an 80’s coming-of-age classic that happens to have lots of cursing. This is the part where I’d normally say the wacky hijinks the teens get into then turn into a bloody mess, but most of that blood, while spilled in large pools, is spilled off camera. So often so that I thought the movie was PG-13, but nope – it’s a solid R! Must be from all the cursing because, as mentioned before, not a nipple is peeked or even suggested at! And still, this movie succeeds. Vintage Craven in top form. I’m actually still mulling over the magical quality that makes this so. One day I may just figure it out.

4 out of 5

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  • Tristan Sinns

    This is quite possibly the worst theatrically released horror film of the year.

  • Heather Buckley

    I liked the movie, it was like Parker-Lewis-Can’t-Lose plus a slasher film.

  • Uncle Creepy

    Ok so I saw it. It’s kind of hard to explain. I had fun with it for the most part. I really did. But then that ending. Wow. The ball was not only dropped but stepped on and deflated. Yet there were good things about the movie. I liked much more of it than I disliked it. I can totally see what Nomad liked about it, and again, different strokes. The flick gets points for actually having teens portray the teens instead of near 30 year olds, and there are some really good bits sprinkled about but by the time the last 20 minutes come around we’re “treated” to what is arguably the messiest bit of filmmaking I’ve seen in years. Really this wasn’t too bad. A positive yet completely unfulfilling experience at best. And the 3D was completely inconsequential. It added nothing to the experience. Much less than any other 3D conversion to date. For me it’s no 4 knife movie, but I’d hover more toward solid two and a half to flaccid three.

  • Jon Condit

    4 knives for a Shocker remake? really? This movie looked awesome in the teaser trailer. The full trailer however made it look horrible.

    I’ll give it a shot but I don’t know if 4 knives is possible. Withholding judgment till I see it though.

    • Heather Buckley

      I am curious how this film is a Shocker remake? There was no electrical socket abuse ANYWHERE in the film.

  • James Coker

    sorry nomad but this review is really proving numerous DC fans points on how they can’t trust your reviews…sorry

    • The Buz

      I really hope Nomad doesn’t take this as an insult, because I don’t mean it as such:

      But Nomad, for me anyway, is the most trust worthy of reviewers on the site. I know the guy, and I know him and I have literally the exact opposite in taste. Like down to a T. Not saying I’m right and he’s wrong, just that we are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to shit we like in movies. So without fail, if Nomad loves something, I’ll hate it. And if he hates it, I’ll love it.

      That isn’t to say there hasn’t been some movies where we’ve agreed on it, but very few.

      So yeah, I disagree with you. I can totally trust Nomad’s reviews. He never steers me wrong. 🙂

    • Nomad

      And I can’t force myself to think about something the way someone else would. It shouldn’t be a matter of trust. A review is an opinion. This one is mine, and I’ll always be 100% truthful about what I’m seeing no matter how much i like the people making it. That said, find a reviewer who tends to feel the same way you do about the essentials of these films and you’ve found your Yay or Nay writer. Then come back to me when I hate something and you can at least laugh as I lose my mind over it.

      P.S. I don’t take offense at anyone commenting on my reviews, so go craaaazy.

  • kiddcapone

    Dude, are you fucking kidding me? 4 Knives my ass! This movie is a complete piece of shit. I wouldn’t give it one half knife.

  • nonserviam03

    I got really excited for a second when I saw the 4 knives, and then I started digging elsewhere. While I generally hold reviews from here in higher regard than a lot of other places, a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes is just too ridiculously awful.

    I might check it out on DVD when it hits. Maybe.

  • Rottenjesus

    I think NEW NIGHTMARE was the last gasp of Craven’s inspired work. That was 1994, two years before he said “Fuck originality” and did the SCREAM movies for the money.

  • Uncle Creepy

    Despite what I’ve heard here and elsewhere I’m gonna wait to see it before I pass judgment. Honestly I haven’t really liked anything Craven has done with the exception of the original Scream since The Serpent and the Rainbow. One man’s trash is another’s treasure. I’ve had plenty of good times at bad movies and Matt’s (Masked Slasher) comments have me ultra curious.

    • GJW

      WHAT? You’re going to WAIT to actually SEE it before passing judgement or forming an opinion? Where the hell did you get such a crazy idea like that? Sheesh. Dude,the “in” thing is to like,watch the trailer then post and bitch about how much the movie sucks and how far off reviews are!! LOL (Um,hope ya picked up on the sarcasm)

      I have to return some video tapes.

  • Masked Slasher

    I give Nomad a LOT of credit for this review. I just got out of it not too long ago and I honestly am speechless. I couldn’t write anything about it now.

    It’s a mess and a failure, but not without some interesting substance.

    While I was bored by much of it and underwhelmed by other moments there was something that kept my interest.

    I’ll definitely give it another look sometime down the line.

  • Ultimo Franco

    Currently at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not one positive review so far. The studio refused to screen it for critics. But Nomad gives it four out of five. LOL!

    • Messiahman

      It would appear that DC does indeed have its very own Armond White.

  • Caterpillar

    So how’s the 3D? Or did you see a 2D version? Since this was post-converted, I take it the 3D is horrible.

    • Nomad

      Wasn’t even worth mentioning.

    • The Woman In Black

      The 3D wasn’t bad per se, but it was totally unnecessary and not utilized to any great effect. It was just … there. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why unless it was merely a ploy to try to beef up the box office.

      As for the film itself, it wasn’t awful and it wasn’t great. It was middle of the road. The acting was pretty good, there were a few nice twists and turns, but like Creepy said, the ending was horrendous. There were so many ways it could have turned out, and they picked the most generic, vanilla way possible.

      But overall I was enjoying it until the finale. Some reviews I’ve seen said it was dreary, as if that’s a bad thing. For me, its dreariness was one of the things I liked most about it. I have to wonder if some people aren’t piling on the negativity just because they are disillusioned by Craven. To me it was a serviceable little slasher flick that, yes, was toploaded with its kills but still managed to provide an okay time at the multiplex … up until that ending. At best it’s a 3/5 from me.

  • The Buz

    Damn, I was hoping this one would be good too.

    But the fucking pop out ads make me want to fucking kill someone.

  • Sirand

    That bad, huh?

  • Terminal

    Hardly ever agree with Nomad, so I take the four out of five knives as a hint to avoid this at all costs.
    “We are bad guys. That means we’ve got more to do other than bullying companies. It’s fun to lead a bad man’s life.”

  • LeBay

    I’m so excited! You’ve calmed my nerves, but I hope that, during the movie, Craven shows no mercy on them.