January 24, 2009

Movie Review: My Bloody Valentine 3D

mybloodyvalentine3d1_large1981 saw the release of George Mihalka's My Bloody Valentine. Over the years the film has gathered something of a cult status around itself, something which has been amplified of late with the announcement that it was receiving the remake treatment. The original film is not a great one, although it is a pretty good example of the slasher genre, and it does boast an imposing looking killer. In addition to the great looking killer, the movie featured a pretty good story with mediocre acting. With the remake you will be happy to know that there is no re-imagining going on here. This new film remains fairly true to the original story, while simultaneously throwing in a few new twists to keep fans a little off guard. Plus, it is in 3D!

my-bloody-valentine-3d-movie-31My Bloody Valentine 3D is the first horror film to be shot using the "RealD" process, and it certainly works well. This form of 3D is far from the red/blue anaglyph process you may be familiar with (you know, with the cardboard glasses). Watching this movie unfold on the big screen was like looking through a window, there was actual depth, the action was smooth, and lighting and colors were not distorted in the least. Yes, there are the requisite items popping out of the screen, such as eyeballs and spinning pickaxes, but by and large the gimmick is more than a gimmick and used properly this new wave of 3D could really catch on (there is no shortage of 3D films coming down the pipe).

The story begins in the past. There is an accident in one of the mines in the town of Harmony that results in the deaths of a number of miners. An investigation shows the cause of death to actually be murder, one of the miners trapped in the mine, Harry Warden, turned his pick axe on his fellow co-workers. He did not escape unscathed, winding up in a coma.

Fast forward a decade and the town of Harmony is moving along, doing all they can to put the Harry Warden massacre behind them. The problem is that you can never truly put something like this behind you. One of the survivors, Tom Hannigan (Supernatural's Jensen Ackles) returns to town following a decade away, hiding from everyone and not even coming back for his father's funeral. He finds his old girlfriend, Sarah (Jaime King), married to his old best friend, and sheriff, Axel (Kerr Smith), and a lot of upset people. They have a right to be upset as Tom was only back to sell the mine whose ownership fell to him following his father's death.

my-bloody-valentine-3d-movie-1If all of that drama isn't enough, sightings of Harry Warden are reported. These sightings bring with them a whole new set of dead bodies, including Betsy Rue, as Irene, running nakedly, save for a pair of shoes, trying to flee the gas-masked killer. Is it a coincidence? Harry's body was never found, or perhaps Tom's arrival is key? Is Axel jealous enough to act out a killing spree? Just who or what is behind the murders?

My Bloody Valentine 3D does not break any new ground, but it digs into its source with relish. There is some great energy at work here, and that helps fill in the cracks of the material. This is no watered down horror that we have so commonly gotten over the past few years. This film is littered with good doses of blood, violence, and gratuitous nudity. In other words, it is not short on the staples of the slasher genre.

I had a blast watching this. I liked that the characters were not your typical teenagers (although that age group has to be recognized as the bread and butter target for these films). These characters are all twenty-somethings, and being so there seems to be a bit more weight to their performances. It is not a big thing, but it is one that cannot be denied.

my-bloody-valentine-3d-movie-2Is this worth checking out in a standard theater? I am not sure. My heart wants to say yes, but it is hard to tell, they are pushing the 3D pretty hard, and the effects work. Yes, you get things popping out at you on a regular basis, but more than that, the depth works beautifully. I would imagine the 2D version looking fine, but cannot attest one way or the other.

Patrick Lussier is the man behind the camera, and he does a fine job of keeping it interesting to look at while continually moving the action along. His directorial resume is somewhat limited, the bulk made up of the Dracula trilogy that began with Dracula 2000. He also filled the position of editor, the job that has filled much of his career.

The screenplay was written by Todd Farmer and Zane Smith, based on the original screenplay by John Beaird and Stephen Miller. For the most part is good work, although they do take some liberties with an ending that goes back Saw-style to show you what you missed (or didn't consider) earlier in the film. Farmer has previously shown a knack for slashers having worked on Jason X (I really enjoyed that flick). If that isn't enough, like Jason X, Farmer gets a cameo as Frank the Trucker. I bet he had fun shooting his scenes.

Bottomline. I like this movie. It is nowhere near the best slasher film, but it knows what it is and it delivers on its promise. The end may toss you around a little, but the ride will keep you involved all the way through. Have I mentioned who cool the killer looks?

Recommended.

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