Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Soul To Take (2010)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

One night, Abel Plenkov (Raul Esparza) struggles to silence the voices in his head. Abel, suffering from a severe case of schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, tries to fight his murderous alter ego The Riverton Ripper. The Ripper terrorizes the small town of Riverton, as a ruthless killer by using his personalized knife with the word “vengeance” engraved across the blade. Abel eventually loses the internal battle, allowing The The Riverton Ripper to take control.

As The Ripper, Abel murders his pregnant wife, Sarah (Alexandra Wilson) and his psychiatrist, Dr. Blake (Harris Yulin). Abel tries to murder his young daughter, Leah, but a local police officer named Frank Paterson (Frank Grillo) saves Leah’s life at the last second. During a ride to the hospital, Abel takes one last desperate shot at an escape before the ambulance crashes in the woods. Leaving his blood soaked stretcher behind, Abel disappears into the woods without a trace. On the night of Abel’s rampage and disappearance, seven children are born at the same time, including Sarah’s baby.

Sixteen years later, the seven children born on the night of The Ripper’s death celebrate their birthdays together during an annual ritualistic ceremony as The Riverton Seven. Bug (Max Thieriot), Alex (John Magaro), Brandon (Nick Lashaway), Penelope (Zena Grey), Jay (Jeremy Chu), Brittany (Paulina Olszynski), and Jerome (Denzel Whitaker) share an infamous legacy together as The Riverton Seven, but the teens are forced to deal with a serious problem after pulling the usual pranks to celebrate The Ripper. A member of the Riverton Seven meets a gruesome end after a brutal murder, and eventually, Bug (or “Adam”) learns the details behind an old urban legend about The Ripper. As The Ripper, Abel’s soul is capable of jumping into a body of a Riverton Seven member, and Abel’s soul possesses the unknowing victim, transforming the victim into a cold-blooded killer.

Frank returns as a detective to investigate the murders. At school, Bug is more worried about capturing Brittany heart’s, and receiving a higher score on Fang’s (Emily Meade) popularity rankings, but the order of Bug’s priorities change after he learns a devastating secret about his mother, May (Jessica Hecht). While everyone else is trying to figure out the identity of the killer, Bug experiences some odd changes for his personality, including schizophrenic behavior. Someone is determined to kill every member of The Riverton Seven, and with a limited number of options left, Bug shoots to the top of the list for primary suspects, as the reincarnated version of The Riverton Ripper.

Emily Meade delivers the best performance here, and Jessica Hecht deserves the spot for runner up. Hecht is a legit contender for the top spot, but her screen time is limited here. Thieriot isn’t bad in the leading role, but he’s overshadowed by Meade, and the separation of quality is more obvious during their scenes together. And Zena Grey is good for a few laughs as the obsessive religious nutcase. The rest of the cast ranges from  decent to mediocre.

You’ll see the typical bunch of high school characters in a horror film here. Bug is the shy nerd, and he’s going after the hottest girl in school (Brittany), who’s supposed to be out of his league. Alex is Bug’s best friend, and he’s regulated to the sidekick role. Brandon is the star quarterback/jock, and he’s a bully. And Brittany is the airheaded blonde.

Although, I’ll admit, the Penelope character is a refreshing change, and yeah, Fang is the dark and angry goth chick, but there’s a twist to her character. Fang isn’t an outcast, she’s the most popular girl in school. At nineteen years of age, Fang decides, who’s cool and who’s not. She sets the standards for popularity with her rankings, and Fang has her own little clubhouse in the girl’s bathroom titled “The Fang Zone.” On top of all that, Brittany answers to Fang, not the other way around. Without Fang, Brittany is lost and helpless, and she won’t make a big decision without Fang’s guidance.

My Soul To Take tries to surprise the audience with a series of twists, but there’s only one twist that caught me off guard: Fang is Bug’s sister. It’s shocking, because as the most popular girl in school, Fang should do everything in her power to protect and help her little brother’s reputation, right? Nope. Instead, Fang HATES Bug, and she’s the one, who convinces Brittany stay away from Bug at all costs.

Why does Fang hate Bug so much? Well, as brother and sister, they share a dark bond, because Abel Plenkov is their father. Fang is Leah, but over the years, she took the nickname Fang as her real name. Bug is the baby, who was born after Sarah’s murder, and May isn’t Bug’s real mother, she’s Sarah’s sister. May became the legal guardian after the deaths of Abel and Sarah, and Fang resents Bug, because for sixteen years, Bug was worshiped as a miracle baby. Fang, on the other hand, is nothing more than a living, breathing reminder of the atrocities committed on that one tragic night.

Okay, so we’re in My Soul To Take’s final stages, and at this point in the film, we know all about the family history. Now, we’re waiting for the big reveal. Who is the modern day Riverton Ripper?

**Drum roll**

It’s Alex! Alex is the new Riverton Ripper, Alex murdered the others, and for revenge, Alex killed his abusive stepfather, Quint.

Eh, okay? To be honest, I did not anticipate Alex as the killer. Still, revealing Alex as the killer didn’t do anything for me. Throughout the film, you’re expecting some big shocking reveal for the identity of The Riverton Ripper, and I’m sorry, but Alex is not that guy. First of all, Alex is a very uninteresting and dull character. Think about like this. You’re at a restaurant salivating at the thought for your main course of steak and lobster. Instead, the waiter messes up your order, and you see a plate of canned tuna and crackers in front of you. Alex is the canned tuna and crackers.

Second, putting SO much focus on Bug as the leading candidate as The Riverton Ripper devalued a lot of the shock value for Alex’s reveal. Why? After a while, it’s more and more clear Bug isn’t the killer, because Bug as the killer would’ve been way too obvious for a shock. So all the teasing for Bug as the murdering lunatic didn’t make any sense, because again, you’ll quickly realize there’s no chance he could be the killer.

Plus, I got the feeling Wes Craven (the director and writer for this film) was trying to recreate a Billy and Stu moment from Scream, because once Alex reveals himself as The Ripper, he proposes a plan to Bug. Alex wants to pin all the murders on a dead Jerome, so Bug and himself can emerge as the “heroes.” Call me crazy, but this setup is eerily similar to Billy and Stu's plan to pin the killing spree on Sidney’s dad in Scream. 

The Riverton Ripper? He’s a complete joke. His costume is borderline cartoonish, and I can guarantee you, The “Ripper” would have a hard time scaring a five year old. And to make things worse, The Ripper’s croaky voice brought one too many laughs out of me. Sorry, but when your primary antagonist, who’s supposed to inspire fear and intimidation is nothing more than a laughing stock, the movie is doomed for failure.

I appreciate a few cool horror winks here. First, there's the one with Alex watching Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds on TV, and the second wink is for Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. Bug and Alex nickname a pet raven "Edgar." Well, technically it's not their pet. Bug and Alex see the raven on their daily walk to school in the woods every morning, so they befriended "The Raven" over time.

Still, My Soul To Take is a dull and boring horror film. No scares, a lack of tension, a series of underwhelming twists, and too many unintentionally funny moments kill any chances for a passable guilty pleasure film. Also, My Soul To Take squanders a unique supernatural premise. As the story progresses, My Soul To Take devolves into another generic slasher film, with a manic running around hacking teens to bits, and to put the icing on the cake, they had to throw in a predictable scene, where The Ripper chases two victims through the woods. Ugh.  It’s a frustrating disappointment, because My Soul To Take had the potential to be a solid horror flick. Instead, it’s a chore to sit through, and the one hour and forty-eight minutes runtime feels like an eternity.

Rating: 2/10

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