Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Soul to Take

Directed by Wes Craven.
2010. Rated R, 107 minutes.
Max Thierot
John Magero
Denzel Whitaker
Zena Grey
Nick Lashaway
Paulina Olszynski
Emily Meade
Jeremy Chu

Sixteen years ago the local serial killer turned his attention on his own family. He’s rather lazily dubbed “The Ripper” and had been terrorizing the town by cutting up people with a rather large knife that has the word “VENGEANCE” scrawled across the blade. Don’t worry, that’s never actually explained. He seems to suffer from multiple personalities which we’re informed are really multiple souls. One of these kills his wife, while another calls his shrink. A battle with the police ensues which includes The Ripper being shot, presumed dead, waking up a few times to stab some more, get shot again, being rushed to the hospital, causing the ambulance to crash and disappearing.

Fast forward to the present and all the local kids born on that fateful night gather at the lake near the ambulance crash site every year on their birthday to ceremoniously drive The Ripper back into the water for another year. To do this , one of them has to push over a giant puppet representing the killer. This year it’s Bug’s turn. He’s so scared he botches the job. Yup, you guessed it. The kids start getting knocked off…one…by…one.

As slasher flicks go, this premise is okay even though its not terribly original. It reminds me of The Shocker. Not so coincidentally both movies were penned and directed by horror legend Wes Craven. While The Shocker is a gleeful dark comedy and revels in its own ridiculousness, My Soul to Take is an unfocused poser. It desperately wants to be something, it just can’t decide what. It’s attempts at cleverness are anything but. As a result, we get a lot of eye-rollingly bad jokes. It’s efforts at scaring us fail miserably. This is due in part to us trying to figure out if we’re watching comedy or horror and part because there is almost zero tension created. The best of Craven makes us both laugh and cower in fear because humor and horror blend seamlessly to form a potent mixture. Here, the two keep bouncing off one another after awkwardly smashing together. A couple plot twists here and there keep us very mildly interested but aren’t enough to save the film from itself.

What may have helped is better money shots. In slasher fare, money shots are the kill scenes. Even if a movie is awful as a whole, fans of this particular genre will still enjoy it if the grisly murders staged for our morbid pleasure are creative and memorable. In MStT they are neither. They are an incredibly boring succession of stabbings. While they would be undeniably heinous in real life, they’re unbelievably tame for its target audience. We never get what we came for. Imagine watching an action flick in which every fight consistent of just one punch and every shootout a single shot. We get the equivalent of those things.

Wes Craven deserves his lofty spot as a master of horror. He’s earned it through decades of scaring the crap out of us. Occasionally, he’s scared us while simultaneously making fun of how he does it. However, in a career longer than my life has been he’s made some missteps. This is one of them.

No comments:

Post a Comment