My Soul to Take

You know the drill. Years ago, a creepy serial killer terrorized a small town, promised to get all the people who betrayed him -- though in this case, he means his other personalities -- then disappeared, etc. He also killed his pregnant wife and killed or wounded probably half the Riverton police force. Also, seven babies were born, some prematurely, on the day that Creepy Serial Killer was killed. At least the day he was supposedly killed, since as usual, his body was never found and he was presumed to have gone into the river. I don't know why people make such silly assumptions. Still, to be fair, it's a pretty large and rocky river, so I suppose you could lose a corpse there.

Known cutely as the Riverton Seven, those babies are now teenagers. Well, actually, they're all twenty-somethings, of course, though they did a decent job of finding young-looking twenty-somethings, at least. Most of the cast were also on Law & Order, or Law & Order: SVU, or at least some popular crime show. Maybe Wes Craven deliberately raided their guest stars. Max Thieriot, who plays Bug, though, wasn't on any crime shows that I noticed. I don't know why they call him Bug; his name is Adam, and that's a perfectly decent name. He also doesn't seem interested in bugs -- if he's obsessed with anything, it's with the California Condor, and there are much worse things to be obsessed with, though everyone seems to think it's awful.

Bug's best friend is Alex (John Magaro, The Box; Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU). They're the school outcasts. Jerome (Denzel Whitaker, CSI) is the practical kid, who also happens to be blind. Brandon (Nick Lashaway, who has so far avoided the crime dramas) is the jock who torments Bug at the bidding of Fang (Emily Meade, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU), who rules the school. She doesn't count as one of the Seven, by the way.

The rest are Penelope (Zena Grey, L & O, L & O: SVU), who is a religious fanatic; the artistic kid, Jay (Jeremy Chu, L & O: SVU); and Fang's pretty lieutenant, Brittany (Paulina Olszynski, CSI: Miami), who has a pretty little crush on Bug all the while Brandon's chasing her, sometimes literally. Creepy Serial Killer (Raúl Esparza) was on L & O, and L & O: Criminal Intent; police detective Paterson (Frank Grillo, Edge of Darkness) was also on L & O: SVU, CSI and CSI: NY; and Bug's mom Jessica Hecht hit the trifecta: L & O, L & O: SVU, and L & O: Criminal Intent. That isn't everybody, but I'm drowning in Ls and Os.

For most of the past sixteen years, the kids have celebrated both their birthdays and "Ripper Day" with a candlelight, midnight vigil and a ritual banishing of Creepy Serial Killer. According to legend, when CSK died -- if he did die -- parts of his soul went into those newborns, so that's why they have to be the ones to chase him away, apparently. This year, it's Bug's turn to do the banishing, except he doesn't want to. Then the whole thing is interrupted anyway, and Bug thinks they're all going to die because he blew it. I don't know how they explain all the years when they were little and couldn't sneak out of the house at midnight for the ritual banishing, but maybe CSK was waiting until they could put up more of a fight. In any case, for whatever reason, it happens to be this year when the bodies start piling up, and the killer's long-ago promise starts to be fulfilled.

Now, like most slasher movies, you have to suspend your disbelief. This is a killer that strikes in broad daylight, yet is never seen by anyone except his victims, even when there are police all around. On the other hand, that makes the characters seem a little less idiotic sometimes. Yes, two of them go into the woods and get killed, but really, going into the woods fully dressed at 3:30 in the afternoon isn't nearly as silly as going in there at 3:30 in the morning in your pajamas and without a flashlight.

So yeah, it's a pretty standard slasher thriller -- and those aren't my thing -- but they did manage a couple of interesting twists; one of which I saw coming, one of which I didn't. Let's say three out of five. I might have considered three and a quarter, but I'm still vaguely annoyed over the whole 3-D thing. You don't have to film in 3-D from the very beginning these days -- it's perfectly possible to film the regular way and convert it to 3-D later -- and I'm almost positive that's what they did here. There are basically none of the usual things -- no knives racing towards you, no falling corpses that look like they're going to land in your lap, nothing. The girl who sold me my ticket asked if I knew it was in 3-D, and I had to say, "Uh, no," and look faintly silly.

I knew this day was inevitable, but we've reached it sooner than I expected. It's such a stigma to release a horror movie in 2-D, no one can bear to do it anymore! Or maybe they just needed a way to inflate ticket prices to make the box office look better.

Image: 
The cast at the annual ritual banishing.

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