Thursday, May 17, 2012

REVIEW: My Soul to Take (2010)

It’s Wes Craven time! This famed director can really go either way. On the one hand, he directed A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and Scream. On the other hand, he directed The Serpent and the Rainbow and the subject of today’s gala of wrongness, My Soul to Take.

Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Max Theriot, John Magaro

This is a very interesting type of bad movie. It looked like a generic Nightmare on Elm Street rip off – I mean, it’s a story about a bunch of kids stalked by a serial killer who died years ago; come on – but really, it’s bad for COMPLETELY DIFFERENT reasons! I know I’m usually a lot grouchier than this when a movie this terrible comes around but…I can’t help it; this is just too interesting to me! I’m like a kid in a candy store with this shit.

The film starts off with some guy who can’t act, trying to act. He’s a father with a wife who likes to watch on the news about what kind of knife a serial killer currently on a killing spree uses, because, you know, THAT’S something the news would broadcast! What, do they just think people are going to be able to get a close enough look at the knife to be able to quickly call 911 and report it before they get slashed? And for that matter, the knife says ‘Vengeance’ on it…why? It’s never explained! Not even two minutes in, and I’m already confused!

"Ooh, a knife! Cool!"

Then the father finds the knife in the sink and the movie has an epileptic seizure trying to convey the idea that the father is crazy. He does some silly voices and the camera flashes in-between really choppy scenes of creepy angles of him. Then we find out he killed his wife, and the cops come and get him, but he won’t die, and talks to them in a voice that sounds like Jigsaw from the SAW series. Then some stuff blows up, we find out that seven babies were born at exactly midnight and…we flash forward 16 years later!

Okay, I gotta take a breather; this movie is exhausting. That was like 5 minutes of screentime right there. Maybe even less! This whole thing is like the cinematic equivalent of a speed junkie’s personal video blog. You don’t have to cram EVERY SECOND of screentime in with nonsense, Craven. You CAN have a quiet, atmospheric moment or two, you know! Why am I the one telling him how to make his movies? I’ve never made one!

So in the present day, I guess, a bunch of kids are all gathered around in the woods where they apparently glorify the killer from before every single year on the exact day he died, which is their birthday – that’s right, these seven kids who were born when the killer supposedly died all get together each year to ritualistically pretend to kill a big puppet made to look like what they imagine he looked like. They get stopped by the cops because apparently there’s a curfew in town, and they’re all really surprised at this. Why? They do this every year. They should know about the curfew! Why is it such a surprise to them?

Anyway, we see our three main heroes, Bug, random black kid we won't see much, and our main star, Asian kid!

Hey, it's The Goonies/the kids from The Sandlot/the kids from IT/the kids from Chronicle...

Now, in an interesting twist, the Asian kid is actually a really well developed character in this movie. He has a clear motivation, a lot of depth and faults that anyone can relate to…nah, just kidding, he gets killed off in the next scene:

Yes, apparently this serial killer does it execution style and throws his victims off bridges...

After that it’s high school time, as we see one of the kids, Alex, getting into a fight with his drunk, abusive jackass of a stepfather, who drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon, so according to South Park, that’s why he’s a drunk, abusive jackass of a stepfather. I’m so glad Matt Stone and Trey Parker are there when I need them. But hey, if my stepson was in The Box, I’d be pretty angry at him too, so I can kind of sympathize with the stepfather a little.

Alex goes to school and meets Bug, where they hatch a plan to put Bug’s phone in the girls’ bathroom to overhear what they’re saying. Am I in the same movie still?

No, really; am I in the same movie? This IS a horror movie, right? And not Bratz: The Movie or some kind of fashion model photography shoot? Because you're not making a very good case for the former, Craven, I gotta tell ya.

Yeah, apparently the girls in this movie are like the mafia of high school, led by this one chick who’s watched way too many Helena Bonham Carter movies, Fang. Yes, Fang, that’s what they call this girl. They talk shit about Bug and Alex and some other people and it gets them both slightly pissed off at one another. They say that Bug has been in institutions and has killed people before. They say Alex just uses Bug like a monkey. This of course causes both friends to turn on one another with disbelieving looks! But wait, if they’re such good friends, why are they so ready to believe random shit-talking they secretly overheard from the girls’ bathroom? Shouldn’t they be good enough friends to where they would KNOW that whatever the girls said wasn’t true?

We also get this really strange scene where Bug starts imitating everything Alex does and says somehow, like he’s possessed, and has to be slapped to snap out of it. It’s…mostly incredibly pointless. Just like this little paragraph!

We see some religious girl talking to another girl who the head jock of the school got pregnant, I guess. Isn’t there supposed to be a serial killer in this movie? We’re 40 minutes in, and not more than one poorly explained, brushed over kill scene has happened! The pregnant girl is worried about her baby, so religious girl says “It’s a baby, not a bomb.” Well unless you’re in Dracula III: Legacy:

I bet you didn't expect me to reference Dracula III again, did you? But yeah, to make a long story short, they both get killed I guess.

Then we see this girl named Brittany running away from head jock asshole guy Brandon, who wants her to give him a blowjob. She comes across the dead body of the religious girl outside, which is weird, because they weren’t even anywhere CLOSE to there when she was killed just ONE SCENE AGO…but what’s even stranger about these scene is that Brittany assumes Brandon did it, just at the drop of a hat for no reason. She accuses him of killing this girl like she’s accusing him of stealing her homework. What a smart character. Luckily her punishment for this moronic dialogue is death!

Not EXACTLY a good shot...

Then Brandon gets axed, too, and the killer utters the brilliant line: “Fuck your fucking unborn child!” Wow, Wes Craven…just wow. I don’t know why I expected better lines than this from a movie serial killer…OH WAIT it’s because Craven directed A Nightmare on Elm Street, which was famous for its killer’s witty one liners that DIDN’T involve profanity and ridiculous try-hard tough guy-isms! Silly me.

At home Bug finds out that his mom baked him a birthday cake. He tells her he likes that Brittany girl – you know, the one who just got killed – and she says “Isn’t she a little sophisticated for you?” What the hell? I guess she won’t be winning any Mother of the Year awards! You might as well just tell him “Honey, you’re a hopeless loser and you can’t even talk to most girls; just give up.” I mean…wow! That was pretty cold.

After that we see one of Craven’s brilliant plot twists as that Fang girl who was acting like the Godfather of the high school mafia is actually Bug’s older sister the whole time. Yeah. Real riveting twist, right? She tells him she hates him and that he ruined her life because he’s actually the son of the serial killer from the beginning of the movie, who everyone thinks is back and killing again. Then she beats the living crap out of him, because nothing says horror movie protagonist like getting beat up by your own sister:

So…HOW did this never come up in any of their no doubt wonderful familial conversations in the past SIXTEEN YEARS?! I’m sorry, I don’t buy it! There is NO WAY none of this crap was just NEVER brought up that whole time Bug was growing up!

After that we see Alex again for the first time in about a half hour. He comes in and talks to Bug about some stuff and then casually mentions, near the end of the conversation, that he just got back from murdering his stepfather. Yeah…wouldn’t have mentioned that FIRST THING, would he? I guess he just didn’t think it was very important.

Bug goes to get him a drink, sees his dead religious girl friend in the mirror, gets his father’s knife with ‘Vengeance’ written on it back somehow, and then goes downstairs and finds his mom dead. One cop comes in – yes, one cop; I guess sending more would have been a stupid idea – and tries to arrest him, angry that Bug would kill his mom NOT because he killed his mom, but because he was a symbol of hope for the town after his father killed his actual mother in the opening scene. Yes, HOW DARE HE HAVE A SERIAL KILLER FOR A FATHER AND COME OUT SCREWED UP BECAUSE OF IT! What an inconsiderate little shit.

The cop then gets killed by the actual killer a second later.

Bug and the killer fight a little bit and the killer apparently has teleportation powers, avoiding every gunshot fired at him somehow. Bug goes upstairs where it’s revealed that Alex was the killer the whole time, because the killer’s soul randomly picked his body at birth 16 years ago to transfer into…I don’t know, just go with it. Alex goes outside while he internally monologues about how he isn't the hero the city needs, but the one it wants right now, and that he can fake it FOR THE SAKE OF THE TOWN…

Actually on second thought, no.

Yeah, this movie was special. I don’t even know what to say about it. Craven conjures up, somehow, some decent drama with this thing, but there are so many plotholes, stupid scenes, terrible acting and horribly inconsistent storytelling moments that I can’t overlook them all. My Soul to Take is honestly a trainwreck of a film that you could probably miss and be a better overall person for it, and if you really want a GOOD 'troubled teen' movie, go watch Chronicle instead. But if you want something so terrible and so ridiculous that it's actually hilarious, well, My Soul to Take will do the job. Happily, in fact.

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