I have read people claiming this is a terrible film and one of the worst films ever made so when I watched this it was with low expectations. While this not a brilliant film I thought it was entertaining with an interesting concept and characters that were likable and fairly engaging. Director Wes Craven is perhaps suffering from a reaction to his films based on higher expectations than those by which most other B-movie horror is judged.
The small town of Riverton is being terrorised by a serial killer call the ‘Riverton Ripper’. A TV news programme has an expert talking about what they know and he says the killer has multiple personality disorder and probably doesn’t know who he is as he lives his normal everyday life. Abel Plenkov is watching the TV as he works on building a rocking horse for the child his wife is pregnant with. Security camera footage shown on-screen reveals the weapon used by the Ripper. To his shock Abel finds the same knife in his hand and his hand is showing some skill at opening and closing the knife. A voice in his head then demands his cooperation or his family will be killed. It turns out that Abel is possessed by multiple personalities and one of them is the Ripper. Abel refuses to cooperate and discovers his wife has been killed by the Ripper. The Ripper then goes after his young daughter but the police arrive and shoot him. They have to take him down several times and as he struggles on the way to the hospital the ambulance he is in crashes and burns. Meanwhile the police discover that the baby is still alive inside his dead mother. Someone makes mention of the miracle of seven children all being born on that night in that small town.
Sixteen years later those seven children and all their friends from school are gathered for an annual ritual at the burned out wreckage of the ambulance. One of the seven must face someone in a scary costume that is supposed to represent Abel Plenkov who local legends says is still alive and will one year come back for the seven . This year it’s the turn of Adam, normally called Bug (Max Thieriot) to drive Abel Plenkov back and keep them safe. Even though it’s clearly just a costume Bug freaks out but before he wets his pants a police siren interrupts them and everybody starts running away, including the guy in the costume.
Jay (Jeremy Chu) an Asian student and one of the seven is making his way home alone and as he crosses a bridge a figure wearing the Ripper costume chases him and kills him on the bridge then tosses his body into the river below. It really isn’t a very scary scene and it is all over so quickly so there was no real build-up of tension. This first death scene is unfortunately the standard of the subsequent death scenes as the Ripper goes after each of the seven.
It turns out that Abel Plenkov suffered from multiple personality disorder but someone’s granny apparently used to say that it’s not multiple personalities but multiple souls and since that is just crazy that means since it’s a horror film it’s true. So when Abel died all his souls were reincarnated in the seven children born that night and one of them is the reincarnation of the Ripper.
Just want add a bit about some the other characters I haven’t mentioned. Penelope (Zena Grey) the fundamental Christian was a pretty strong character good at using just enough crazy to undermine the school bully Brandon (Nick Lashaway) with what she knows about him. Brandon is the muscle for Fang (Emily Meade) the heartless manipulative Queen Bee of the school and Bug’s big sister. Alex is Bug’s best friend and main target for punishment beatings from Brandon under orders from Fang. Bug fancies pretty blonde Brittany (Paulina Olszynski) but she’s under strict orders from Fang to keep away from him. Oh yeah and incidentally there’s another character Jerome (Denzel Whitaker) a blind black kid who gets about 20 minutes screen time. He’s one of the seven so you can take a guess at his odds of seeing it to end of the film.
A reincarnated killer is hardly the most original of concepts but I thought this film carried it off quite well for most of the film but it seemed there a bit too much rushing about in the climax and I don’t think it was very clear about what had happened. I liked the cast especially Max Theriot who is pretty good as Bug. The killings were a bit bland and for some reason CGI blood was used. The story mainly relies on the whodunit aspect of trying to figure out who the Ripper is rather than lingering on the students’ deaths and features a few false leads and twists before the not very surprising reveal at the end