We all know the name Wes Craven is labeled as 'The Master of Horror'. The name I'm sure rings a bell for most, if not all of you. And if it doesn't, then you horror fans really need to do your homework and study up on some of the best and critically acclaimed horror movies. For anyone who does not know, When Wes Craven started out, most of the films he made were considered to be outrageous, disgusting, filthy, sick, depraved, shocking and easily successful, not to mention, filled with dark humor.
Starting off with this first feature film titled The Last House on the Left, Craven would continue on to make some of the most horrifying, brutal yet remembered horror films to date. These films consisted of Last House, Hills Have Eyes, Shocker, People Under the Stairs, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and much, MUCH more.
Wes has also contributed to some of the remakes of his earlier films such as Last House, Hills Have Eyes (1&2), as well as the upcoming TV series for The People Under the Stairs. On the other hand, some of his films became notably forgotten. The Hills Have Eyes Part II for example. The film, written and directed by Wes himself, was a failure according to critics as well as fans to this day. The movie was said to have forgotten what made the first film shocking and relevant. This happens with sequels in the business, especially in the horror genre. Can we really blame him for trying to surpass the original? Sure, Scream 2 is arguably better than the first, but again, it's all an opinion.
In my opinion, one of the best, forgotten films in Wes Craven's oeuvre is My Soul To Take, and here is my reasoning why: *WARNING MINOR SPOILERS*
1. The Movie Is Crazy...Crazy Good
My Soul To Take (originally titled 25/8 and BUG) would be the first film Craven would write and direct since Wes Craven's New Nightmare which was released back in 1994. The film was shot back in 2008, but due to many reshoots in 2009 and then the 3D post-conversion, it wouldn't be released into theaters until October 8, 2010.
In the small town of Riverton, a local legend tells of a serial killer's oath to come back and kill the seven children who were born on the night he supposedly died. Now 16 years later, Riverton residents are disappearing again, making some wonder if the legend is true. Bug (Max Thieriot), plagued by nightmares all his life, is one of the so-called Riverton Seven, and it's up to him to save his friends from an evil that will not rest.
One of the first things that I really want to touch on is the fact that critics and some others who have seen the film have labeled this as a "generic teenage slasher film".
Is this the same thing we've seen over and over? No, this movie is different. The movie starts off with a homicide committed by the Riverton Ripper. There are seven souls of the Riverton Ripper and supposedly when he was killed, each soul went into the seven children born that night. That's the first sign that this movie is going to be different. If there is another kind of movie out there that has this similar opening, then please, post it down below in the comments. If not, then continue on with me.
Sixteen years later, we are introduced to the Riverton Seven, now young adults, at a ceremony that is hosted each year near the lake where the Riverton Ripper was killed. Every year on their shared birthdays one of the seven must push down a puppet, created to look like the Riverton Ripper, to keep everyone safe for the year. Sounds easy enough, right? Our protagonist doesn't seem to think so.
Bug is the babyface of this movie. He's innocent, shy, slim, and can easily be pushed into any kind of situation. His personality and habit of talking to himself in different voices tries to set him up as the primary threat. Did this fool anyone when you first watched it? I'd also like to point out that one of the reasons I enjoy this piece of his character is because it reminds me of someone else from a well-known trilogy of films. Any guesses?
For the first ten minutes of this movie, everything is non-stop and there's just blood everywhere. It kept a quick pace and with some eh dialogue it keeps the viewers attention. However, once we get to the main cast members and their character arcs start to build, there isn't much to be excited about. But if you look closely, you'll realize that there is more to this movie than what meets the eye, which leads me into my next defense.
2. Non-Cookie-Cutter Characters
When this film came out, I didn't get the chance to see it in theaters. I was too young to get in, so I had to wait until it was released on On Demand. Being fourteen years old and not knowing a whole lot about the deeper meanings in movies, I was completely blind, but now, I've opened my eyes. Each of the characters in this movie are not just cookie-cutter characters (slut, smart-ass, jock, burnout, etc). They each have some kind of depth and importance to the plotline.
For example, within the first twenty minutes of the film, Bug's creative friend Jay, who built the Riverton Ripper puppet, bites the dust. After this sequence of events occurs, Bug seems a bit more creative than he was before. Where do you think that creativity all of the sudden came from? BAM! You guessed it. The soul of Jay went into Bug giving him this new ability. This continues on as the teenagers begin getting picked off one by one. This is how Bugs character development comes into play. None of the other teenagers that were part of the Riverton Seven needed to have character development because they already established the strengths they would give Bug when they died. The audience just needed to examine them a bit more than we usually would.
This leads into one of the major reasons why I think this movie has more depth than it is given credit for.
Never ever can you deal with something like this alone. When going through life, you need other people around you no matter what the situation may be. Wes Craven had said himself that this movie is almost like Stand By Me with knives and I can agree with that. The bond of friendship carries you a long way in the world and although some of these characters aren't friends (more so enemies), they all still acquire a strength that can be useful to someone else.
3. Maturity and Growing Up
The next argument I'll make over this movie is one that many people do not, even if they don't realize it. This isn't just a slasher movie where people get hacked up and then there's a surprise twist at the end. This movie is about the pains of growing up. The morning of Bug's birthday, he opens the bathroom cabinet and sees a razor given to him by his mother. A note on the razor reads, "For when you're a man, if ever". This was brought to my attention immediately after watching this for a second time. Bug's transformation from this shy, harmless sixteen year old to this more mature being who isn't taking anymore flack shows how much he's grown.
*Bugs friend Alex has difficulty with his home life because of his abusive step-father that feels the need to punch him in the ribs whenever he exits his bedroom.*
4. Accepting Your Past
My fourth defense is the obvious, yet still not always noticeable, journey of acceptance. In one particular scene, Bug is confronted by his sister Leah who beats the crap out of him because she is tired of his innocence and cluelessness. She gives a speech about how she had to grow up living a terrible life and that Bug got to live in this whole dream world.
Wrong movie Leah....however, nice Nightmare on Elm Street reference.
After her major speech, she then lets Bug in on some information that has been kept from him ever since he was born. With a few minutes of shock and finally some understanding of his past, Bug accepts the truth. He accepts the demons of his past and uses it to his advantage for the final moments of the movie. Leah also, in the same scene, learns to accept her past.
Accepting your past for better or for worse will make you a stronger person and help you make your way through life easier. When you confront your demons and accept them, it opens your eyes to the bigger picture. I believe that's what Craven was trying to get across in the idea of Bug becoming a man/stronger person.
5. Wes Craven Himself
My last defense for this film would be the writer and director himself. Wes Craven is one of those directors where no matter what film he makes, good or bad, I will stand by it and find something good in it. I guess you could now say that this article is biased and doesn't mean anything to you, but from hearing what he's said about the movie and what he wanted it to be, I can see his vision. Supposedly the studio had made many changes to the flow and structure of the piece which of course is upsetting and irritating because then the director doesn't get to show their true vision of the story.
Aside from that, Wes Craven is one of the reasons why I'm where I am today. His creativity in the film industry has inspired me to go above and beyond and make changes in my life that I always wanted, but never thought I would do, which I have to thank him for. So, Wes, if you ever get the chance to see this, just now that this is a major thank you for helping me out and pointing me in the right direction so I can pursue my passion!
Now, this film is in no way a masterpiece. The film is actually far from that, however, through the silly teenage dialogue, and slower points, it has a strong message of friendship and growth. Through the dreamy, eerie and creepy sequences, you can tell that Wes had a certain vision for this movie and that it didn't get fully shown in this release. Yes, it might pain you to dig deeper and try to find the positives out of the many flaws, but it won't kill you. And if it does, then I am very sorry.
So guys, I know that I might get some hate for this article and my defending My Soul To Take, BUT I do want to ask you to take these points into consideration when viewing the movie. At first, I just thought it was cool slasher film. After watching it again about a year back, I thought it was nothing special at all. Then, when I popped it into my Blu Ray player for a random viewing, I sat and analyzed it to find something good in it.Though some may disagree, I just want to point out again that this is all opinionated. We all have different likes/dislikes and this movie just so happens to be one that I like.