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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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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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