Few would argue Wes Craven’s credentials as one of horror’s most influential, iconic and all round well loved filmmakers. Ever since his directorial debut, the hugely controversial and groundbreaking The Last House on the Left (1972) he has provided some of the genre’s most famous and memorable moments. Whether it be the disturbing image of Freddie Krueger, arguably the most recognisable face of twentieth century horror, or the eerie, white mask from Scream (1996) pretty much anyone to have seen a horror film over the past forty years will have encountered one of Craven’s creations, or at least a Craven-influenced production.
However, whilst capable of moments of such greatness, Craven has also displayed a fairly consistent knack for producing moments of unforgivable rubbish. Look no further than New Nightmare (1994), Scream 2 (1997) and Scream 3 (2000) as steaming examples of the, let’s say, unpredictable nature of his work. Unfortunately, My Soul to Take (2010) falls into the latter category of Craven’s efforts. It’s hard to know where to begin with a film that fails so miserably in its attempts to appear relevant and capable of competing with the current crop of Hollywood horror movies.
Above all else, My Soul to Take feels extremely dated. Had it been released in the mid-nineties, it may have come across as a slightly more palatable piece of work, yet, in 2011, it lacks the kind of tension or atmosphere necessary to create any genuine sense of horror. This is mostly due to the combination of nonsensical plot with an unconvincing and mostly unknown, teenage cast.
The ludicrous plot, which I’ll endeavour not to bore too much with here, involves a serial killer who places a curse upon a small town on the night that he dies; a curse intended to claim the lives of seven children born on that same night. Fast forward sixteen years and each of the teens start disappearing, in a manner that suggests that one of the seven may, in fact, be the reincarnation of the killer himself. Although this may sound like a promising idea, the characters come across as though they have been directly lifted from a nineties, high school drama. This effectively ruins any potential for audience investment in any of the key cast members, whilst also drawing attention to the ludicrous and baseless storyline, as gradually it becomes more and more laughable in its attempts to appear intelligent and inventive.
Quite simply, My Soul to Take serves primarily as a stark indicator that the time has come for Craven to retire. Harsh as it may seem, the likelihood of another A Nightmare Upon Elm Street (1984) or Scream is, at absolute best, highly unlikely. Furthermore, it would be a real shame for such a great exponent of the genre to be remembered for this kind of embarrassing dross.