REVIEW: My Bloody Valentine 3D [2009]

“Be mine 4 ever”

Well if I was a long time editor of Wes Craven films, I’d want to eventually exit his shadow and make a name for myself too. Why director Patrick Lussier decided to choose a remake to put himself out there, I don’t know, but that is what he is giving us. The man who helmed Dracula 2000 with Craven wearing the Producer cap ends a string of straight to video sequels by bringing some blood and gore back to the big screen. Normally I could care less about a story like this, but there are special circumstances when concerned with the update of My Bloody Valentine and that would be the addition of a little abbreviation that goes by the name of 3D. Only when people I trust started saying that the gimmick was effectively used did I even acknowledge the small interest of checking it out. Since my last foray in seeing real human actors in three-dimensions was the abysmally flat, cardboard-like final reel of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I’ll just say I wasn’t too enthused to give the technique a second chance. However, James Cameron’s Avatar is only a couple years away, so the technology must have improved … right? The answer to that is: by leaps and bounds. I just wish the vehicle utilizing it could have been a bit more interesting.

If I am going to say anything really positive about My Bloody Valentine 3D it is going to concern the 3D. Granted, motion still gets a bit blurred and unfocused, but I believe that will be improved, otherwise, there is a lot to like. I credit Lussier from not shying away from really going for the aesthetic fully. Multiple uses of fences or steel cages obstruct our view in order to show depth; a few of the gruesome deaths contain body parts flying out at us, (the blood spurts could have been rendered better); and the pickaxe which doubles as the prime weapon of choice finds itself in the audience’s face often. What really impressed me, though, was the rendering of light. The sheen that covers glass and other reflective surfaces is quite impressive, lending itself a realistic transparency as well as a tactile surface quality. And the lights, especially that of our killer’s headlamp, are perfect. Even the lens flares have depth to them, superimposing onto what’s beneath them as part of a higher layer. You really do find yourself lost in the screen at times, a round of applause all around.

Unfortunately, one doesn’t go to the movies to necessarily be wowed by effects and lulled into not seeing the numerous problems that shiny toy hides beneath it. The story is very generic—the college-aged son of a small town, (Harmony is such a blatantly tongue-in-cheek name), coal mine owner makes a mistake leaving a group of workers trapped in an underground collapse. All die except one man, found in a coma, who is later deemed to have killed the rest with his pickaxe in order to save the limited air for himself. A year later, on Valentine’s Day—the title isn’t completely unnecessary after having much more meaning in the original incarnation, at least I infer it did from the plot synopsis I read—Harry Warden awakens and kills 22 people before being lost in another cave-in, finally dead after a failed attempt to kill Tom Hanniger, the boy who’s accidental misstep left him there the first time.

Ten years go by and the survivors all find themselves back in town and face to face with a restart of the slayings. Tom has returned to sell the mine, his ex-girlfriend has married a jealous rival from the past who is now the town’s sheriff, and it appears Harry Warden is back from the dead, looking to get his revenge once and for all. It is all very convenient and sadly poorly acted in most instances. Even Kevin Tighe, a recognizable character actor, comes off a bit flat, at times hamming it up for the camera, especially at the end when drunk with a shotgun. An almost unrecognizable Jamie King is the love interest of newly returned Tom from his decade-long self-exile and Sheriff Axel Palmer. She is actually pretty good, I was just completely surprised when I saw King’s name in the end credits. Kerr Smith’s Axel is effective if not obvious and Jensen Ackles’ Tom is really quite bland and wooden. Maybe that was a conscious decision in order to undergo a slight transformation at the end—which was acted nicely—but I think the playing it dull was just too soulless.

As for the scares, everything is pretty generic, yet shown in fun ways. A lot of deflection is utilized so that you expect a jump-scare moment to come only to be disappointed. However, in that split second your anxiety has lifted, the scare then arrives. The beat was off just enough to keep the scares fresh and it was appreciated. When it comes to the blood, you will definitely not be disappointed. My favorite bit of gore happens very near the beginning and it involves a shovel and a pretty girl’s face … let’s just say that sets the stage for what can and will occur as the film progresses.

One goes to a genre flick like this to have fun with the blood, gore, and nudity. My Bloody Valentine 3D doesn’t hold back in regards to any of those, so rest assured you’re in for a fun ride. I laughed a lot and enjoyed the effects work with many axe-swinging fatalities. However, the real winner coming out of it is the 3D work. Besides a couple stale moments of a slow panning gun eventually being pointed at you the audience member, it is astonishing to experience. I can’t wait to see the technology as part of a more high-brow feature, but for now, a little horror flick isn’t too bad to give you that first taste.

My Bloody Valentine 3D 5/10 | ★ ★

photography:
[1] © 2008, Courtesy of Lionsgate.
[2] Jensen Ackles stars as ‘Tom Hanniger’ in MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D. Photo credit: Michael Roberts

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