15 June 2009

Movie Review: My Bloody Valentine 3-D


My Bloody Valentine 3-D
2009, 101mins, R
Director: Patrick Lussier
Writer (s): Zane Smith, Todd Farmer
Cast includes: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Megan Boone, Tom Atkins
Release Date: 16th January 2009

“My Bloody Valentine 3-D” is a remake of a little known 1981 Canadian slasher of the same name (minus the 3-D) that was compiled to cash grab from the success of the “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” movies. “My Bloody Valentine” has since become only a footnote in the bloated stalk and slash genre but has as the years have progressed the project has grown something of a minor cult following preventing it from falling into complete cinematic redundancy. In honesty the fact that it’s getting remade in 2009 is damning of the era in which we live in, has it come to the point that we’re so devoid of originality we have to revisit the 80’s horror flicks which where rubbish to begin with? So color me shocked, Patrick Lussier’s reimagining is ultimately gimmicky junk but also damned entertaining. Full of the boobs and blood that horror fans desire from such a diversion the film also manages a decent dramatic subplot, a rarity within its genre. It’s also more than just masked killer mayhem, at the centre a Scooby-Doo style mystery evolves, a big part of “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” is uncovering who’s behind the killings, a characteristic missing in many similarly themed efforts.

The story is bobbins but the character interaction is actually credible, from a dramatic stand point this is a film leveled far above a lot of its peers. I’m not suggesting you’re going to get levels of raw dramatic intensity on a par with “The Wrestler” or “Frost/Nixon” but the characters and relationships on show here aren’t as superficial and underdeveloped as usual. 10 years ago in the town of Harmony a mining accident caused a series of workers to be buried alive, with one of the crew, Harry Warden, killing the rest to preserve his oxygen. Warden was finally retrieved whilst comatose and his actions had him demonized but that was not the total extent of the man’s evil. Sometime later Warden awoke and donned the gas mask and Pick Axe once more slaughtering the staff of the local hospital and some rowdy and drunken teens. Among the teens chastised was Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) who was subsequently blamed for the initial collapse in the mine that caused Warden to kill his fellow miners and kick start this chain of destruction. Tom leaves for a decade and returns only to sell of his shares of the mine (inherited by his father’s death) but on his return so to remerges a masked killer. Tom thus works to prove his innocence whilst Sheriff and love rival Axel (Kerr Smith) desperately attempts to vilify the new arrival for the current spate of bloody and love themed killings.

The film’s biggest selling points are the vicious bloodshed, 3-D gimmick and copious nudity that infest the project, and it has to be said that Patrick Lussier constructs a film around these necessities pretty well. Lussier was last seen helming the humiliatingly bad “White Noise: The Light” and whilst some of his shots remain those of a journeyman one has to compliment him for the vast overall improvement. Since directing that utter piffle in 2007 Lussier appears to have gained a firmer (if totally unsubtle) understanding of the key mechanisms for popcorn horror, those being a lot of blood, a little tension and as much female anatomy as can be crammed into a picture whilst retaining an R rating. Not every scare mixed up gets the blood pumping but a few moments are executed to chilling effect, and whilst the mystery gas mask clad killer never intimidates like Michael Myers he remains enough of a mystery for the viewer to at least be made wary by his presence. The kills aren’t really that creative but they’re pulled off with an admirable bloodlust and energy, fans should at least be satisfied with the ferocious rate at which Lussier paints his picture with entrails and gruesome deaths.

Ackles is decent in the leading role as is Jaime King as his long lost love but everyone else involved could probably benefit from a few extra acting lessons. Kerr Smith is the grandest perpetrator of poor performing as King’s husband and Ackles rival, wooden and unconvincing is every scene he features. Even his delivery of dialogue (admittedly as patchy as one should expect from the genre) is unimpressive. The rest of the cast are plot points, pick axe fodder or a pair of breasts as far as the story is concerned, though I will give commendation to writers Todd Farmer and Zane Smith for scribbling a more compelling dramatic dynamic than we’ve come to expect from slasher pictures. I was at times genuinely intrigued by the central love triangle despite Smith’s dozer of a performance, and the mystery elements are credibly rendered. The reveal at the end isn’t going to have people talking for 6 months but it might trigger a slight sense of surprise during the viewing, something most modern day “twists” can’t boast.

I suppose the film isn’t really that memorable but it is slickly entertaining and atmospherically shot, some of the cinematography inside the mines is super even if the exterior material looks a little rougher and cheaper than multiplex swarms will be accustomed to. The 3-D effects are being primed as the key selling point and they do contribute an extra dimension of fun and giggles to proceedings, but don’t really offer up anything more intense in terms of scares and shivers. I reckon it would still be easy enough to enjoy “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” without the added gimmick, certain scenes might feel a little staler but overall it’s a suitably well crafted piece of genre filmmaking. Expectation management is probably crucial to derive pleasure from Lussier’s blood soaked carnage, but if approached in the correct mindset, this is a film horror nuts should really enjoy.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


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