Monday, January 19, 2009

Movies: My Bloody Valentine 3D

There’s no shortage of scary movies getting released this January and February, which is why horror junkies should feel safe skipping My Bloody Valentine 3D and getting their fix elsewhere. Horror movies don’t necessarily have to include a thrillingly original plot, as long as there is some coherency and lots of nail-biting moments. This movie has neither.

The movie opens with newspaper clippings and faux-news voiceovers giving the scant background of the story (a mine explosion trapped six miners in a shaft, one - Harry Warden - went crazy and pickaxed the other five to conserve air before falling into a coma), then it goes right into Warden waking from his year-long coma and going on a cross-town massacre that takes up probably the first twenty minutes of the movie, ending when Warden is gunned down right before he tries to kill Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles), the guy responsible for the mine explosion in the first place. Cut to ten years later, Hanniger is back in town for the first time in a decade, and Warden is back from the dead and killing again...or is he?

My Bloody Valentine is the kind of slasher flick they don’t make anymore – but that might not be a bad thing. I say this as someone who grew up watching the 80s slashers, owns the Sleepaway Camp DVD boxset, and can’t wait to see how badly Michael Bay messes up Friday the 13th next month. When slasher movies were exciting and new, audiences seemed more inclined to handwave the less coherent plot machinations. But now that we’re used to more refined psychological components to our scares, having a spooky psycho killer with hazy motivations just doesn’t cut it.

The characters are wooden and the acting is uneven. While Jensen Ackles and Jaime King do a fine enough job with their roles, Kerr Smith, best known as Jen’s gay BFF on Dawson’s Creek, turns in a completely unsympathetic performance, which would be fine if his character didn’t get a third of the screentime. Don’t look for imaginative deaths, either – the killer sticks with his trusty pickaxe the whole time, which doesn’t make for much variety. And when faced with several choices for who the identity of the killer would be, the producers went with the least interesting option, leading to an anticlimactic ending.

The film could have been a campy treat if it didn’t take itself so seriously. The scene where the killer hacks up first a little person (played by Selene Luna, Margaret Cho’s personal assistant) and then a naked girl who is cursing a blue streak could have been a cheesy highlight in a film that embraced its camp value. But My Bloody Valentine positions itself as serious horror, and it really, truly isn’t. The original version was not a cinematic masterpiece, either, but at least its plot was coherent.

I should say, the theatre I saw My Bloody Valentine at was not equipped to do 3D, so I missed out on what I’m sure would have been several cool moments of severed jaws flying at my head and a pickaxe swinging towards my face, things that might have marginally improved my enjoyment of the film. But those are ultimately fun little tricks that can’t replace a well-made and entertaining movie. To be worth your money, a movie must be able to stand alone as a 2D experience as well as a 3D one. Unfortunately, My Bloody Valentine does not stand alone, and is not worth your money.


Sex Mahoney for President said...

Normally, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but 3D horror is like a wet dream wrapped in bacon and butter.

smd said...

See, that's the thing, I've no doubt that if I'd watched it in 3D I would have walked out of the theatre going "That was awesome!" But seeing it in plain ol' 2D let me see that the emperor - and at least one of the principal characters - had no clothes.