‘My Soul To Take’ a miserable return of the ‘teen slasher’ flick

From the master of horror, father of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” franchises and king of the teen-slasher film subgenre, comes the worst career move ever.

Wes Craven is an iconic writer and director in the horror film genre, but viewers wouldn’t know it with his latest release, “My Soul To Take,” which hit theaters on Friday, Oct 8.

The movie at least had an interesting, if not slightly conventional, premise. Seven children are born on the same night a serial killer dies, and the killer vows to one day return and kill them. The, 16 years later, people start disappearing once again, and Adam “Bug”  Heller (played by Max Thieriot “The family Tree”) and the other six kids struggle to find out who the killer is and stop him or her before they all end up dead. The problem? The original killer may have been reborn in one of them, and since Bug is his son, he’s the likely candidate.

First and foremost, don’t see this movie in 3D. This is one of those movies where 3D was added almost as an afterthought, and is barely noticeable if at all. The effect is a waste of good money when it comes to this release.

The acting in this movie is so-so. Thieriot is, thankfully, probably the best actor of the cast. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much to work with, and Bug is the most developed character on screen. The most important character to the movie isn’t fleshed out in the script nearly enough; the most viewers learn is that he’s had terrible nightmares ever since he was a young child, and that he is socially awkward. He’s the outcast of the group.

Mean-girl Fang (Emily Meade “Burning Palms”) had the most character depth aside from Bug, and this ruins every other character for the audience. There is nothing in these characters that makes the viewer want them to live. After the first five minutes of screen time, the viewer is more likely to be counting down the minutes until each one dies, starting a betting pool for which one goes first.

To be fair, the movie’s premise is, as stated earlier, actually pretty intriguing as far as horror plots go.  It has the potential to be either as terrifying and eye-catching as any “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie, or as mindless and relatively humorous as any “Scream” flick. Unfortunately, “My Soul To Take” doesn’t commit to either. In fact, it seems to try and combine them to a degree.

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The first fifteen minutes or so of the movie seem to lean more towards the “Nightmare” style, and that is more than likely the route that Craven should have taken the rest of the flick. The beginning was engaging, suspenseful, eye popping, jaw dropping (to a certain extent) and leaves most viewers eager for more.

The staple of any teen slasher is the, well, teen slashing. Every killer has a signature way of killing and a crowd to kill. Freddy had a glove of knives, killed in dreams and went after the teens who had a connection to Elm Street. His killings were artful, terrifying and full of flare. The “Scream” killers had a black cloak, a freaky white mask and killed according to the conventions and rules of stereotypical horror flicks. These killings were sometimes humorous, always bloody and were meant to make the viewers shake their heads and say, “You stupid kid; you shouldn’t have done that.”

The killer in Craven’s newest flick has a small curved knife and kills kids born the same night he supposedly died. His killings are lackluster. Nothing about them strikes the viewer as especially frightening or disturbing like in “Nightmare,” and while viewers will likely shake their heads as they do for “Scream” killings, they won’t have invested enough attachment to the characters to care if they make a stupid choice and die for it.

In short, if you want to see a good Wes Craven horror flick, see the original “Nightmare” movies,  or even the revamped remake. One can only hope after this terrible box office submission, Wes Craven’s “Scream 4” (set to release in April 2011) will redeem and re-throne the  master of horror.