My head is swimming right now. It’s 2:30AM and I just returned from the midnight 3-D (f*cking $17) showing of My Soul to Take, Wes Craven’s whodunit that wasn’t screened for critics. It isn’t hard to see why…
With a seemingly simple plot, Craven’s slasher is actually one of the most overly complicated films I have ever seen. The movie opens with a schizophrenic with multiple personalities calling his doctor in the middle of the night. Apparently, a local killer is coming to slay his wife and unborn child. It turns out that they’re already dead… and that he’s the killer. The police arrive and a shootout occurs leaving multiple people dead.
Flash forward 16 years as the audience is introduced to the Riverton 7, a group of kids who were born the night the Riverton slasher died. Only now they begin to die one by one. The mystery begins: who is the killer? Is it one of the 7, or did the psychopath survive all those years ago?
What transpires is the basic structure of Scream. Meet the teens, see how they’re all so different and unique from one another, watch them do “cool” kid stuff (like drink, smoke in the bathroom, and beg for a blowjob), all the while the audience is left wondering which one of them is the killer.
My Soul to Take broke my brain. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to write a review. And if it weren’t for one of my friends, I’m not quite sure I would have even figured the twist out at all. You see, there are no rules, no back story, and definitely no exposition friendly cues to help you understand the finale that can only be described as Inception meets Scooby-Doo. Here’s the problem: Craven is attempting to make the audience figure out who the killer is, while he should be trying to get the audience guessing who the demon/evil spirit is. No, I didn’t ruin the movie for you, and even worse is I probably didn’t help you either. My Soul to Take is so goddamn confusing and heavy-handed that the final 15 minutes is jam-packed with hefty exposition that literally explains the over-complicated twist. In one scene a character literally walks us through the prior scene explaining what actually occurred, all the while Craven flicks images of the evil genius’ plot (insert evil laughter here) across the screen. Minutes later, the killer reveals him/herself, and then explains the plot in a vomit of dialogue that would make the Micro Machine guy jealous. The way it plays out is shocking, transforming into a parody of itself – like something you’d see on “Saturday Night Live”. The information is spewed so quickly that my ears and nose started to bleed, and my brain nearly exploded. I would have literally needed subtitles and a pause button to process all of the information that was thrown at me. Thankfully, one of the five of us actually gathered just enough information for us to piece together what actually happened – and as surprising as it sounds, it was pretty f*cking cool.
The problem with My Soul to Take isn’t in its concept, it’s in the execution. It’s overly complex and nearly impossible to explain with images, which is why the slasher turns into a visual table read in the final act. And even though Craven still finds a way to make his films visually relevant, his 60+ years of age shows in his hideous teen dialogue that ranged from “Wake up and smell the Starbucks” to “Turn down the prayer conditioning.” LOLOL, right?
But that’s the beauty of My Soul to Take, it’s like an Elephant Man of a film. It’s so sick, twisted and deformed that it’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen. You can’t possibly guess what happens next, nor will you ever be able to figure out the finale… don’ even try*. Yet, it’s hard to sit here and tell you not to see this film, strangely because it’s either the most brilliant thing ever made or the most retarded. If you want to see what a half-train wreck looks like, and be thoroughly entertained, Wes Craven’s got your back 25/8.
*If you’d like me to explain the “twist” to you, send me a private message.