My Soul to Take, Wes Craven’s latest film, is very likely the film that will capture the title of Horror Film of the Year. While it’s true that Let Me In is a wonderful rendition of the tale it was not quite perfect and it is a tale already told whereas this was not.
This film hooks itself into you right away as we watch a jaw-dropping and fascinating opening sequence which chronicles who the Riverton Ripper was. Springing forward we are watching a late night party in the woods where those who were born on the last night the Ripper was seen alive, and is presumed to have died. They are about to engage in a cleansing ritual it is interrupted and things go south from there.
While there is a bit of willful misdirection by the film, certain scenes want you to lean one way over the other as to who the killer is, rest assured it does add up in the end if you look back on some of those scenes as just planting the seeds of mental illness and character building.
Almost from the word go this film ratchets up the tension and makes it a jaw-clenchingly enjoyable experience which is not only full of suspense but comedy, by design not by accident. What is even more surprising is that a seemingly superficial scene in which Bug (Max Thieriot) and Alex (John Magaro) are trying to eavesdrop on the girls in the rest room turns into one of the pivotal scenes in the film due to the fallout from it.
Even though this was a film that was converted to 3D in post production that bears commenting on because when I went to see it there was no 2D option available. While I don’t have a scorecard of native-3D vs. post-conversion I must say it is the best I’ve seen of post-conversion. The images are crisp and clear and there is depth of field. A lot of time and effort was put into it to make it all seem by design and indeed it did enhance the experience.
Finding a horror protagonist is a tricky thing. People who will watch a horror film will watch many and become jaded. We’ve all been there where we’re watching a horror flick and it stinks and part of why it stinks is we don’t like the protagonist and they just won’t die already. This film doesn’t have that concern Max Thieriot plays Bug as endearingly and affably as possible while still maintaining the utmost sincerity. We see him struggle through this nightmare and root for him not only to make it out alive but to not be the killer.
Another reason that this film manages to keep itself so engaging is while Bug is boyish, kind and sheltered he is never stupid. There is never a decision he makes or something he does that makes you roll your eyes and take you out of the moment.
My Soul to Take will keep your eyes glued to the screen and your knuckles white. It is a great night at the movies waiting to happen and a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stagnant genre.