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My Money to Take: How Wes Craven lost his blood soaked mojo 

In addition to wondering why My Soul to Take would be in 3D, you also have to ponder what happened to Wes Craven.

In addition to wondering why My Soul to Take would be in 3D, you also have to ponder what happened to Wes Craven. His newest jaunt into the slasher/horror/teen victim genre is a major low point for this once-distinguished auteur of all things gory and smart.

Soul begins with a cool bloody intro, a lot like Craven's underrated Shocker, with twinges of Elm Street and Scream, infusing both intellectual insight and humor. Alas, it then turns all too formula. The useless 3D throws not a single bloody knife at your face, opting rather to let you just sit there and listen to people talk about stuff. This by-the-book slasher is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

The formula is far too familiar: after the initial slaughter scene, we jump 16 years into the future when a bunch of stereotypical teenagers expound a bunch of campfire myth mumbo-jumbo about the Riverton Ripper. It turns out that seven of them go by the moniker of Riverton Seven because they were all born on the day the killer supposedly died (what are the chances!), with one of them possibly harboring his murderous soul. Their numbers soon dwindle as they suffer gruesome deaths at the hands of a masked, dreadlocked homeless man.

Soul represents the first writing-directing effort from Craven since his stylish "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" in 1994. Here, he disappoints almost immediately and never gains any kind of momentum. Did I mention there's way too much dialogue? There are references to voodoo legends about multiple souls as opposed to multiple personalities, and nonsensical stories of condors and clarions that serve no purpose. Then there's the unexplained weirdness of "Bug" (Max Thieriot), the main murder suspect and his bizarre imitations of other people. Sure, he acts weird enough, but his mental health history is only hinted at yet never explained. And don't get too bent out of shape at the twist ending: it's about as twisty as a straight edged razor.

I have a theory about directors like Craven who long ago made really good horror movies: That was their shot and it's over. They either did too many drugs or not enough, but the residual burnout seems to have affected all the greats of the genre. Any attempt at bringing back the genius and originality of their premiere vision just doesn't cut the blood-tinged mustard. Craven's trademark satirical humor is gone. What's left: the psychosis, horror, mythology and teen victims all come off as boring. The best line of this movie was "it's not OK to be killing all the time." In Craven's case though, maybe it's not OK to be making movies at all.

My Soul to Take
Starring Max Thieriot, John Magaro, Denzel Whitaker, Zena Grey, Emily Meade
Written/Directed by Wes Craven
Rated R

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