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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

My Soul to Take 3-D

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service

Wes Craven, the horror auteur best known for unleashing Freddy Krueger in 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street," is back at it with another, much less memorable bogeyman. There's little chance the slasher behind the mayhem in "My Soul to Take 3-D" (Universal) will enter the horror movie pantheon, let alone secure a place in pop culture lore.

Taking an 18th-century children's prayer as his jumping-off point, writer-director Craven offers a cheaply effective diversion. Unlike others working in the genre today, he doesn't rely on stomach-churning gore or sadistic torture to frighten audiences; he knows how to make viewers jump the old-fashioned way. That's probably the best that can be said about this picture, however, since there's enough bloody violence and other unsavory material to render it inappropriate.

In the hamlet of Riverton, Mass., someone begins stalking seven teenagers who were born the night a serial killer known as the Riverton Ripper supposedly died. Everyone in town is obsessed with this homegrown criminal, a husband and father named Abel Plenkov (Raul Esparza), who suffered from multiple personality disorder and even murdered his pregnant wife.

The day after a ritual bonfire commemorating Plenkov's spree, the targeted youths spend tense hours at school on their 16th birthdays. Is the Ripper still alive or did he find a way to endure inside someone else—by possessing their soul, perhaps? The most likely vessel is a tremulous kid nicknamed Bug (Max Thieriot) whose best friend, Alex (John Magaro), also came into the world on that fateful night. The two are bullied by the cool clique, which happens to include two peers—the "jock" and the "pretty girl"—who share their birthday.

No matter how much Craven tries to ornament the action with talk of soul-eating and bad seeds versus good seeds, it boils down to people confined to a house trying to avoid being butchered. He goes out of his way to mock religious faith, in particular any ability it may have to shield believers from harm. Penelope (Zena Grey), one of the seven marked teens, is a fanatical Christian who believes in the power of prayer. Needless to say, her 16th birthday is her last.

"My Soul to Take" isn't boring, but it's far from original or, pardon the bad pun, cutting-edge. There is absolutely no justification for exhibiting it in 3-D and asking moviegoers to spend extra for virtually nonexistent visual effects.

Craven knows how to craft suspense and spook audiences using low-tech means. That doesn't mean he should or that anyone need take notice of the instantly disposable result.

The film contains numerous acts of bloody violence, including a suicide and multiple stabbings and slashings; pervasive rough language and profanity; disrespectful attitudes toward religion and prayer; and a number of sexual references and banter involving teenagers. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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