Reviewed by David Rosiak
Starring Jaime King, Jensen Ackles, Kerr Smith, Edi Gathegi, Kevin Tighe, Megan Boone, Betsy Rue
Directed by Patrick Lussier
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve grown tired of the remake trend currently running rampant in Hollywood. For the most part I’d rather see the work of new, fresh voices than calculated retreads designed solely to market familiar franchise names. Most films that worked perfectly well the first time have only suffered upon being remade. That said, George Mihalka’s 1981 slasher film My Bloody Valentine isn’t exactly a widely celebrated genre classic. Rather, it’s a minor Canadian cult film known for having one of the more intimidating killers in the genre as well as being an early victim of the MPAA’s slice-and-dice attitude when it came to gore in the Eighties. The first issue of Fangoria that I ever read had a feature story on My Bloody Valentine – the article was chock full of photos depicting shockingly gory kills. When I finally got a chance to see the film, those gory shots had all been excised. While the film certainly worked as a reasonably decent example of the slasher subgenre, it lacked that gory “oomph” that the Fango article had promised.
Patrick Lussier’s respectful 3D remake definitely doesn’t suffer from a lack of gore. This is an R-rated horror film through and through. My Bloody Valentine is bursting with gory kills and loads of nudity, all delivered in three glorious dimensions.
Fans of the original will no doubt be pleased that screenwriters Todd Farmer and Zane Smith have stayed respectfully true to the source material. Indeed, the remake’s storyline hews extremely close to Mihalka’s film. Deranged miner Harry Warden wreaks havoc on the citizens of the small Pennsylvania coal town and is then supposedly killed himself. Ten years later the murders start up again, and soon enough severed hearts are being delivered in candy boxes. Caught in the middle of the mayhem is town pariah Tom Hanniger (“Supernatural” star Jensen Ackles), who hit the road shortly after Warden’s massacre, only to return in the middle of the new spate of murders.
Upon his return, Tom finds his ex-girlfriend Sarah (Sin City‘s Jaime King) married to his old rival Axel Palmer (Final Destination‘s Kerr Smith), who has recently become the town sheriff. Is it mere coincidence that the new spree of slaughter kicks into high gear just after Tom’s return? Is someone mimicking Harry Warden’s vicious m.o.? But wait; Harry’s body was never found so maybe the man himself is responsible. This mystery comprises the bulk of the film, and although it’s not difficult to discern the real killer at the outset, the story is considerably helped by a group of actors who invest their all into it. Better yet, these characters are adults, not typical Twilight tweeners, and it lends a sense of seriousness to the proceedings that has been missing in recent teen-oriented trash like the awful Prom Night remake. Lussier and company even had the good sense to cast cult favorite genre god Tom Atkins in a prominent role – and it’s not a stunt cameo but rather a character who genuinely affects the story’s outcome.
But let’s cut to the chase. The real reason this new iteration of My Bloody Valentine has garnered interest is, of course, the 3D aspect. And that’s where the film delivers in spades. This is the first film shot using the “Real D” process, and Lussier takes full advantage of it. The film wisely rolls out its 3D gags about every five minutes. And they’re terrific gags – we get gouged eyeballs, flying viscera, spinning pickaxes and a boatload of nudity. Indeed, there’s a terrific scene in which actress Betsy Rue fights for her life against the killer while she’s wearing nothing but a pair of stiletto heels (and extra kudos to Ms. Rue for actually giving a real performance in the midst of her nude cavorting). The kills come fast and furious, rarely letting the viewer catch a breath before the next grisly act is rolled out. The scenes in the mines during the climax were all shot to maximum claustrophobic effect, and the 3D here was so exceptional that I felt completely involved in the film.
Would the film work as well projected two-dimensionally? Not really. It’s a fairly predictable thriller that recalls countless other mid-budget slashers, but there’s a truly visceral thrill to be had by being so involved in the action. 3D may still be a gimmick, but it’s certainly come a long way since its inception in the Fifties. As a fun, involving 3D experience, My Bloody Valentine 3D is completely deserving of a five-knife review. As a straight horror film, however, I’ll give it a three-and-a-half with a qualifier that it must be seen in its intended format. If there’s a theater anywhere near you projecting it properly, by all means run out and see it, preferably with a large group of people – there’s no better way to appreciate this fun, gory thrill ride.
3 1/2 out of 5
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