Monday, May 22, 2017

The insufficiency of liking a title

I took My Soul to Take out of the library, and in fact renewed it when I didn't watch it during the initial three weeks of having it at my house, mostly because I found the title interesting.

That was my impression of the film seven years ago when it was released. I didn't remember until the closing credits that there was another factor that probably interested me at the time: it was directed by Wes Craven. In fact, it ended up being his second-to-last film.

But the title was the only thing I remembered this time around, imagining that a movie that cleverly repurposed the last line of a child's bedtime incantation must have something to offer. It's a title that credits the audience some level of intelligence and an appreciation for the poetic abstract, so I thought some level of intelligence might also be present in the filmmaking.

Boy was I wrong.

This movie is dreadful from its very opening seconds. In fact, it begins with such a discordant level of absurdity that even my wife, who was in the room but not watching it, snapped to attention and started laughing at it because it was just so off.

The best thing I can say about the movie after this inauspicious beginning is that it morphs into something boringly conventional, at least in terms of its plotting. Its execution remains disturbingly amateurish.

Craven was 71 years old when he made it, and though that doesn't necessarily guarantee he had lost it, I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. The other choice is just to assume he considered this the best possible version of pretty silly material that he should never have selected in the first place. (And by "selected" I mean "wrote" -- yes, he was responsible for this disaster from top to bottom.)

Craven did direct one more film, Scream 4, which I certainly won't watch until I've seen Scream 3, which may never happen.

Only then will I know if Craven went out with bang or faded away -- or if he went out with a "so bad it's good" kind of bang.

My Soul to Take is almost so bad it's good, but really, it's just bad.

Good title, though.

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