Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) Review

My Bloody Valentine 3D
Are you ready for your heart to be broken?

I’ve noticed that there were three movies released in 2009 that were considered to be great viewing “experiences” in the theaters…Paranormal Activity, Avatar, and My Bloody Valentine 3D. Now, Avatar has not come out on DVD yet (and not likely very soon, considering it has beaten Titanic in the worldwide box office), so I cannot gauge its strength on home video, but I will focus on the Paranormal “experience”. Now, while a lot of people were calling Paranormal Activity a horror movie that was best watched with a reactionary audience, the truth was that it was still a damn fine scary movie without the people around me screaming at every creepy occurrence. The reason Paranormal Activity will endure over the years is because it extends beyond the gimmick of being a theater “experience” and can be viewed in the comfort of your own home with the same terrifying effect. Now allow me to shift over to Valentine. Even though Paranormal was a straight horror movie and Valentine is only trying to be campy fun, both turned out to be “experiences”. The thing with Valentine is that it has been made almost entirely around the basis of its 3D gimmick that has been used to entice a reaction from people. Strip away the “experience” and what do we have left?

Plot Synopsis: During the credits sequence, it is explained that a coal mining accident left its sole survivor, Harry Warden, in a coma. Some people even believed that Warden killed the other miners in order to survive. He then wakes up a year later and kills everyone in the hospital and then returns to the mine. After another assault that leaves Tom Hanniger, the son of the mine's owner, his girlfriend Sarah, and Tom's high school rival Axel Palmer the some of the only survivors and Harry is thought to have died in the mine from the police. After ten years of seemingly disappearing, Tom returns to the town. He's then reunited with Sarah, but it is revealed that she is now married to Axel, who has become the local sheriff. But as soon as he returns, the murders begin to occur, and it is thought that pickaxe-wielding serial killer Harry Palmer is back for more. Axel's investigation into the matter soon leads him to believe that Tom might have something to do with the murders. Has Harry Warden really returned, or has someone else picked up where he left off?


Although My Bloody Valentine 3D is in fact another in the long line of recent remakes based on horror movies from before the 90s, let it be known that I have not seen the original yet, so I have no bias on that front. So does it work on its own terms then? Well, not really. First off, the movie is not really scary (although the killer’s miner suit is pretty creepy), but then again the filmmakers seem to be going more for a more tongue-in-cheek, campy vibe. And for a while, they do a pretty good job. The first half-hour has some really gory and fun thrills that held my attention for the time being. The first ten minutes alone racks up a body count larger than most horror movies do in their whole running time. Unfortunately, the momentum isn’t sustained for the rest of the time. After a while, the kills start to fade into each other with similar stabbings and repetition. There is one great coup-de-grace about two-thirds of the way through, but aside from that, not much is very memorable.


It also doesn’t help that director Patrick Lussier has almost no understanding of the use of suspense. There is absolutely ZERO suspense or build up to virtually any of the murder scenes. They all follow a similar pattern: characters enter an area, characters get separated, and then the murderer jumps out of nowhere to attack somebody. Blood and gore works decently on its own, but if there’s no build up then you don’t get the same kind of “release” or satisfaction. The much-touted 3D of the movie also provides some cool moments, but it frequently pulled me out of the movie. Some of the best bits are an eyeball sticking and when the miner’s ax flies at the camera, but there are some really shoddy moments that stick out like a sore thumb (whenever the ax breaks glass). It also doesn’t help that Lussier shoots the movie in a dull, almost made-for-TV style manner that makes it look really cheap at times with its flat lighting.

The movie also spends a lot of time trying to develop its characters, which I applaud at least for effort, even if it’s not entirely successful. The drama occasionally drops to soap opera levels and it only made me want the killings to come faster and quicker. The actors portraying these characters aren’t necessarily that bad, but they aren’t good enough to make these drama scenes work. Jensen Ackles was ok as Tom, but by the end he had some really cringe-inducing moments. Also, Jaime King and Kerr Smith were serviceable as Sarah and Axel. The only one that really stands out is the always great, B-movie stalwart Tom Atkins, who plays Sherriff Burke. He’s a breath of fresh air in a sea of mediocrity. But the problem with My Bloody Valentine 3D is not that it is mediocre, it is that the movie is mediocre without even managing to be a cheesy, but fun carnival ride. Breaks my heart.


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