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  My Soul To Take Save A Prayer
Year: 2010
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Max Theriot, John Magaro, Denzel Whitaker, Zena Grey, Nick Lashaway, Paulina Olszynski, Jeremy Chu, Emily Meade, Raúl Esparza, Jessica Hecht, Frank Grillo, Danai Gurira, Harris Yulin, Shareeka Epps, Elena Hurst, Felix Solis, Shannon Maree Walsh
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sixteen years ago, the hunt was on for the serial killer known as the Riverton Ripper in this small community. The night there was a news report on the television that claimed to have shown footage of the murderer in the act, and revealing his weapon to be a blade with "VENGEANCE" written on it, one man was finishing making a rocking horse for his unborn child. By chance he happened to fall over and notice a knife hidden away under a bench - a knife the Ripper had used. It was then he realised one of his multiple personalities which he thought he had under control was nothing of the sort...

One of the major flops in horror auteur Wes Craven's career - it broke the record for the lowest grossing opening for a 3D movie, embarrassingly - it seemed as though there were very few who had anything good to say about My Soul To Take. Craven freely admitted the script he crafted for it was being rewritten as he was shooting, and frankly it showed, as the plot seemed reluctant to settle on one thread, and kept throwing up twists and twists within twists to sustain interest, but in effect made it apparent he didn't have the firm hand on his material which saw even his less successful works at least show integrity.

And yet, this was not quite as bad as you might have believed, as at times it came across as weirdly playful in its suspense sequences and the way it messed around with the characters' heads. What happens that fateful night when the Ripper realises who he is is that he calls his psychiatrist to tell him of his fears, is ordered to get his young family out of the house (he has a daughter as well), but then sees that it is too late as his wife in bed with him has been his latest victim. The police burst in, then there follows a near farcical series of events as the killer is shot repeatedly yet keeps being revived to attack yet more people, leading the tone to turn curiously comical, depending on your sense of humour.

However, whether it was meant to have you chuckling is none too clear, as was the case with much of what followed as in the hospital seven babies have been born premature, including, it is implied, the still-living one from the womb of the murdered wife. They grow up to be the Riverton Seven, your basic slasher movie collection of potential victims and potential culprits, the lead one for our purposes being Bug (Max Theriot), a misfit who is aware of the reason for his hometown's notoriety and begins to suspect that he may be the possessor of the killer's soul. Sure enough, the killings begin once again, and Bug has a crisis not only because his schoolmates are dying, but also because he feels responsible.

Is he taking his survivor guilt a step too far? Adding to the strange muddle that is this movie's plot was a hefty dose of mysticism, as quite often the characters will take part in some kind of ritual, whether Christian - Penelope (Zena Grey) makes time to pray very often - or more shamanistic, as Bug is preoccupied with condors, to the extent that he identifies with them on a spiritual level. Then there's the half-jokey ceremony near the beginning where the Ripper is invoked by the teens and Bug fails to "scare" the puppet representing it away, as if this is to blame for the resurgence of the deaths: the Ripper's body was never officially found. It's no wonder audiences were confused, as so much was going on here that even the ending which explains all doesn't half clear up as much as you'd like it to, but individually there were scenes surprisingly strong for a supposed failure. If only they'd been arranged less messily. Music by Marco Beltrami.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Wes Craven  (1939 - )

Intelligent American director, producer and writer, at his most effective when, perhaps paradoxically, he was at his most thoughtful. Controversial shocker Last House on the Left set him on a path of horror movies, the best of which are The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, New Nightmare and Scream (which revitalised the slasher genre).

Less impressive are Deadly Blessing, Swamp Thing, the ridiculous Hills Have Eyes Part II, Deadly Friend, Shocker, Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed and the successful Scream sequels (the last of which was his final movie). Music of the Heart was a change of pace for Craven, but not a hit, though aeroplane thriller Red Eye was a successful attempt at something different; My Soul To Take, an attempt at more of the same, flopped. One of the pioneers of the American new wave of horror of the 1970s and 80s, he brought a true edge, wit and imagination to the genre.

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