My Soul To Take (2011)

Dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personality disorder, is a controversial condition: it seems that it's linked with traumatic events in a patient's life; it doesn't have easily definable symptoms; and according to some clinicians, it might actually be caused by the therapists themselves. So what better topic to make a terrible, dull, confused slasher movie about?

My Soul To Take is not a clever film. It starts, as all slashers must, with a bit of backstory: a man, Abel Plankov, is working on toys for his young daughter when his pregnant wife interrupts and says that the news is scaring her with its reports of the Riverton Ripper, a local serial killer. In the background, a psychiatrist named William Blake - and I'm going to pretend I didn't notice that, because, ugh - tells the news reporter that the killer might be suffering from mental illness, and might not even be aware that he's the killer. Surprise! It turns out Plankov is the killer - or, at least, one of his other personalities is. He calls Blake with his worries, but it's too late, and he kills his wife before the police arrive. And then he kills some of the police. They shoot him, but like all slasher movie villains he's not going down that easily. Even when they get his corpse into an ambulance, it's not over; the ambulance crashes into the river, and we fast-forward 16 years.

On the night Plankov supposedly died, something strange happened in the maternity ward. Pregnant women spontaneously went into birth, even when they weren't due, and seven babies were born that night. Improbably, a legend sprang up around them: that Plankov's personalities were in fact separate souls, which had passed into the babies. Every year, on the anniversary of his death, the seven kids gather at the scene of the ambulance crash and carry out a bizarre ritual that involves someone dressing up in a "Ripper" costume (which bears no resemblance to anything, but you've gotta have a mask in films like this) and being symbolically "killed". Apparently, this ritual will stop the Ripper from rising again, but this year, it's interrupted by the police. And so the killing starts again.

There's a ton of extra symbolism thrown in haphazardly: lots of stuff about mirrors, and a Native American myth about the condor being a bird that can absorb souls, but even that can't save the majority of the film from becoming a dull exercise in watching daft teenagers get butchered. The dialogue is embarrassingly bad, and the plot is convoluted without ever actually being interesting. It's obvious what's going to happen, and even the identity of the killer isn't really a surprise. There's no reason for the audience to become invested in any of the characters, there's no real tension at any point, and the ending is just too stupid for words. The idea that someone with a mental illness might be possessed is horribly outdated, offensive, and amateurish; there's just no excuse for falling back on that ugly trope in 2011.

Worse, the movie was shot in 2D, then converted to 3D for its theatrical release, which is the only way to make something this stupid even more painful.


Shaun said...

How I've missed your movie reviews!

Nish said...

Congrats on The Guardian mention!

I vaguely remember you making their pages before though...

Sarah Dobbs said...

Hmmm. I can't remember if I have been, though it's possible!