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Film / My Soul to Take

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My Soul to Take is a 2010 horror movie from Wes Craven, being his first since Wes Craven's New Nightmare that he wrote, produced and directed.

As legend has it, a serial killer, the Ripper, will return to the quaint town of Riverton to murder the seven children that were born the night he allegedly died.

Sixteen years after his death, members of the community begin to disappear. All the teens know the Ripper to be dead, but they hold the belief that his soul may have reincarnated into one of their bodies, forcing them to discover who among them may be the killer. Only one of the teenagers knows the answer.

Adam "Bug" Heller was supposed to die on the bloody night his father went insane. Unaware of his father's terrifying crimes, Bug has been plagued by nightmares since he was a baby. But if Bug hopes to save his friends from the Ripper, he must face an evil that won't rest... until the Ripper finishes the job it began the day Bug was born.

My Soul to Take provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Alex's stepfather.
  • Adults Are Useless: A bit of an Author Tract for Wes Craven, eh?
  • Agent Mulder: Jeanne-Baptiste during the first murders. She flips with Paterson 16 years later and takes the Agent Scully spot, and even lampshades it.
  • Agent Scully: Paterson starts off as this, and then becomes the Agent Mulder for no apparent reason.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Ripper is a complete psychotic whose only seeming goal is to kill as many people as he can.
  • Alpha Bitch: Fang, a super senior, has the entire student body under her thumb.
  • Animal Motifs
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    May: (noticing dirt and leaves on his sweater) "Did you fall?"
    Bug: "I buried a friend... my condor costume."
  • Betty and Veronica: Bug is infatuated with Brittany, a Beta Bitch who is involved in petty crimes and getting Bug beaten up by her boyfriend, but gets several Pet the Dog moments and seems to like Bug back. In the meantime, Penelope The Fundamentalist seems to have a crush on Bug that she can't quite voice and protects him from being bullied by Brittany and her friends. None of this amounts to anything, as both of them are killed by the Serial Killer, while Bug survives.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted with Jerome. Unless you count The Ripper, he's the last of the victims to die.
    • However, the first of the seven to die is Jay, the only other member of the group to be of an ethnic minority.
  • Calling the Old Man Out
  • Chekhov's Gun: The biggest knife in the kitchen.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Leah, complete with Freudian Excuse.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Patterson, the police detective investigating the murders, before getting suddenly murdered by the Riverton Ripper at the climax.
  • Developing Doomed Characters
  • Disability Superpower: Averted with Jerome. He simply uses standard blindness techniques for mobility and identification.
  • Evil Gloating: The Ripper, naturally.
  • Everybody Knew Already: Everyone knew about Bug's father but the Riverton Seven... except Alex, who has the soul of The Ripper inside him.
  • Expy: Comparisons to the first A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (and the second, considering stuff like the possession aspect and the main character being a boy) were inevitable.
    • Frank Grillo's police detective character, Patterson, complete with brown trench coat and somewhat raspy and gruff voice, loosely resembles the late Peter Falk's famed television character Columbo (which is a property of Universal, whose subsidiary Rogue Pictures distributed this film).
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Besides the Distant Prologue and less than a minute of the following scene (where characters are counting down to midnight) the whole film takes place in the sixteenth anniversary of the events of the prologue.
  • Fauxshadow: Careful attention is paid in the beginning to Leah's creepy reaction to the murders, but nothing actually comes of it. She just ends up an angry, maladjusted girl, and is not The Ripper.
  • The Fundamentalist: Downplayed with the devoutly religious Penelope. She includes foreign missionaries in her daily prayer and gives a speech to Brandon about how he is going to burn in Hell for getting a younger girl pregnant and bullying Bug, but she is also deliberately making a scene so that Brandon will have to stop hitting Bug and is kind and supportive to the girl Brandon impregnated.
  • Gaslighting: during the climax, the possessed Alex struggles hard to make Bug think he is schizophrenic and the killer.
  • Harassing Phone Call
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Brandon dies right after he tries to apologize to Brittany for his lecherous Jerk Jock and Barbaric Bully behavior and indicates some love for his unborn child with Melanie Pratt.
  • I Just Knew: Bug, when he states that Brittany was with Brandon in the woods. Their souls told him, because they had just died and their souls joined with Bug.
  • I See Dead People: Bug sees Jay floating in the river and Penelope pointing out The Ripper's knife, both in a mirror.
  • Jerk Jock: Brandon, and even he admits it. Interestingly, he also doubles as The Dragon for Fang in her rule over the high school.
  • Lust Object: Brittany is aon object of desire for Brandon and Bug. They are none too subtle about it either.
  • Meaningful Echo: Fang's ratings of physical pain. Pretty much anything exchanged between Bug and Alex, but most notably: "It feels fucking great."
  • Motifs: There are animal motifs, religious motifs, and mirror motifs.
  • Ms. Exposition: Jeanne-Baptiste, whose only purpose as a character is to explain how some souls are just too evil to stay dead.
  • Never Found the Body: The set-up. Unusually, it was confirmed that the Ripper did indeed die...but, we never found out what happened to his body.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Not as bad as most, but there was some stuff shown out of context, particularly scenes from near the beginning of the movie that took place 16 years prior to the main events (most notably a news broadcast). There are a couple clips shot just for the trailer as well.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Leah kicks the crap out of Bug.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Jerome, who (although legitimately blind) pretends he "accidentally" went into the girls' bathroom instead of the boys' to support a recon mission for Bug and Alex.
  • Plot Hole: Alex plans to frame Jerome for the killings and get away with it. So... how exactly did he plan to convince people that a blind guy committed so many murders without being caught?
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Used copiously by The Ripper, but subverted once.
    Abel: (about to shoot a paramedic) "This is for you, you cunt!"
    Paterson: (shoots Abel) "That's for shut the fuck up!"
  • Promotion to Parent: Bug and Leah's aunt took care of them after their mother died; Bug actually calls her "Mom", and up until a certain point believes she's the one who gave birth to him.
  • Red Herring: We see a lot of Bug's schizophrenic tendencies and his inexplicable proficiency with the folding blade, setting him up as The Ripper, but his odd behavior turns out to be something else entirely.
  • Scare Chord: But of course.
  • Ship Sinking: An in-universe example: Fang makes sure Brittany doesn't get any ideas about hooking up with Bug by insisting that Brandon is a better match for her, even though Brittany's reaction implies she might have a crush on Bug. May also tries to do this with Bug by saying Brittany is a little too "sophisticated" for him. It doesn't really matter in the end, as Brittany gets gutted.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Both Jerome and Bug himself are snarky, sensitive, helpful boys whose sisters are aggressive Girl Posse Jerkasses.
  • Split Personality: The Riverton Ripper. One of them is evil.
    • Actually, the majority of the movie (after the opening) is arguably an inversion of this.
  • Spoiler Opening: Sort of. In the beginning when Jay is killed, you can hear him say "Alex."
  • Stalker with a Crush: Very minor example. Alex gets Bug to go along with his "recon mission" by convincing him that he'll get to hear what Brittany thinks of him. So Bug plants his cell phone in the girls' bathroom and the two listen in on the conversation.
  • Stupid Evil: Yeah, Ripper, try to pin the murders of 6 people, including a cop on a blind kid. I'm sure nobody will question that.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Riverton's high school is rife with bullying, drug use and general jerkassery. No authority figure seems to be able to put a stop to it.
  • Teens Love Shopping: In a rare Pet the Dog moment, Beta Bitch Brittany tells Bug that shopping helps calm her down when she is scared or angry and suggests he try the same thing.
  • They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: Leah torments Bug out of resentment for their past, and never says a thing about it until he lays down an Armor-Piercing Question. She confesses, and flies into a rage afterwards by destroying a dollhouse with a guitar.
  • Token Wholesome: Played with: fervent Christian girl Penelope is also the school' pariah, although - at times - she proves to be far less naive than she looks, as when she uses the fact Brandon got a schoolmate pregnant as temporary leverage against him.
    "She's in my prayer group. Duh."
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Bug's father was the killer, and there is a plotline about whether or not his father's spirit is controlling him. However, a brief shot from the trailer clearly shows him fighting the killer, meaning it's someone else.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Crotch dog."
  • We Need a Distraction: Fang instructs Brittany to do this to a security officer so Brandon can punch Bug and Alex.
  • Wham Shot: An eagle-eyed viewer will probably realize that Bug is the son of Abel Plenkov as soon as Plenkov’s sister-in-law May appears in the present scenes, raising Bug. However, when Alpha Bitch Fang comes down from her room to interrupt a conversation between May and Bug, The Reveal that Fang is Bug’s sister and Plenkov’s daughter Leah, is much more abrupt and startling.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • We never found out if Fang was telling the truth about Bug killing people before the start of the movie.
      • It's explained in a deleted scene.
    • Why was "Vengeance" etched into the blade of the Ripper's knife? What was he getting vengeance for? Why was he killing people at all?
    • Right before Penelope is attacked, she sees Melanie is missing from where they were sitting and calls out her name in worry. It never is explained where Melanie went, although the lack of a corpse in the gym and multiple lines of dialogue describing how many people have died in the killing spree at least mean that she wasn’t killed too.
    • In the opening scene, seven babies have been born just before the ambulance crash, and there is a lot of talk about the Riverton Seven later in the film. However, it is implied that no one knew about Bug’s birth, when the hospital nurses mention the seven births, meaning there might have been eight babies born on the day Plenkov died, with one being unaccounted for during the events of the film.