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MY SOUL TO TAKE
DVD region 2. Momentum.

My Soul to TakeMy Soul to Take opens with a fairly relentless sequence that feels as though it belongs at the climax of another film, with a schizophrenic psycho killer slicing open his pregnant wife and proving unkillable as the police pump him full of bullets, eventually causing a pretty spectacular ambulance crash before vanishing, presumably to turn up in a sequel, were this actually the end of the film rather than the opening.

It’s an action-packed, gory and brutal sequence, and you should make the most of it, because for the next thirty minutes, this film resembles some godawful MTV teen soap, with a bunch of stereotypes going through the high-school motions. It took a will of iron not to simply give up on the film during this first act – had I not been reviewing it, I doubt I would’ve stayed the course.

Thankfully, the film perks up somewhat for the final half, as the spirit of The Riverton Ripper – the killer despatched in the opening scenes – appears to have returned to kill off the seven kids born on the day he died, sixteen years earlier. Writer-director Wes Craven is an old enough hand at this sort of thing to be able to provide a few shocks, one or two not-particularly unexpected plot twists and enough gore to make it a passably entertaining teen horror movie, if not a particularly memorable one.

Unfortunately, it does often seen like Craven – a frustratingly inconsistent and rather overrated director who’s genre career is more through circumstance than love – is working on autopilot here a lot of the time, as he cribs ideas from his earlier films like the lamentable Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Shocker – he even has the voice of Scream making menacing phone calls at one point. As a result, the film feels quite messy, a fact not helped by the reshoots that took place a year after production originally wrapped and the fact that Craven happily admits in the commentary track that the film was being rewritten throughout proceedings. Movies that are made up as they go along are rarely great…

My Soul to TakeMy Soul to Take is by no means as awful as some critics have suggested, but it’s certainly nothing special – if you think of Craven as an auteur with a vision and distinctive style, you might not want to use this as evidence to support your theory; this is strictly by-the-numbers horror than pretty much any jobbing hack could’ve made. It’s worth a look for the good parts, but don’t expect anything too special.

The extras give a clue to the somewhat troubled nature of the production: there is an alternative opening (that is terrible) and no less than three different endings – all admittedly variations on a theme rather than completely different ideas, but still something that suggests that no-one really knew what to do with the film. The deleted / alternative scenes from elsewhere in the film – 20+ minutes worth – are actually quite significant, offering quite a bit more character insight… although it has to be said that the film probably moves at a quicker pace and doesn’t suffer without them. Craven’s commentary track with actors Max Thieriot, John Magaro and Emily Meade is more conversational than informative, but it’s good that some effort has gone into the content of this DVD, given the film’s critical mauling and box office failure.

DAVID FLINT

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