Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009) directed by Patrick Lussier (starring Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Jensen Ackles, Betsy Rue)

My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009). Shown in both 2-D and 3-D theaters. Screenplay by Todd Farmer and Zane Smith, based on the 1981 screenplay by John Beiard from a story by Stephen Miller.

Any remake of a classic slasher film (as much as one can be called "classic") can go one way or another: the current filmmakers will either simply rehash the old one, or they may take the high road and add original touches. Either way, fans of the first one will talk about the differences, while those unaware that there was another one will get to take the movie on its own terms. I'm happy to report that My Bloody Valentine 3-D (a 2009 remake of 1981's My Bloody Valentine) is one of the good ones.

Of course, "good" in this case is a relative term. The dialogue is trite and laughable in most of the early scenes but screenwriters Todd Farmer (Jason X) and Zane Smith have taken the story from the original in new directions, making the characters older and adding more mature plot elements while director Patrick Lussier updates the whole thing to the current "tense, suspenseful, and very bloody" style of recent films like Hostel and Saw.

Harry Warden was the only survivor of a mine explosion in the small town of Harmony. After recovering from his coma, he went on a murder spree that included the killing of a bunch of teenagers who thought partying in the old mine was a good idea. Ten years later, the killings start again, just as a prodigal son returns, putting him at the forefront. Is he responsible? Or has Harry Warden simply come back from the dead?

Protagonists Kerr Smith and Jaime King are surprisingly believable as Axel and Sarah Palmer, world-weary working-class parents, she the owner of the local grocery store, he the town sheriff having an affair with her stock clerk Megan (Megan Boone). Jensen Ackles is less effective in his large, important role as Tom Hanniger, the reluctant owner of the mine and the current prime suspect for the murders. He seems to have only two expressions: hangdog and menacing.

Though the ending is telegraphed from the opening scene, My Bloody Valentine 3-D does a fairly good job of keeping the viewer in doubt about the identity of the killer. And the special effects are stellar, with a variety of gruesome set pieces that exceed anything I've seen recently. The movie really earns its R rating, with heavy doses of sex and violence.

Interestingly, though the lengthy scene of full nudity featuring actress Betsy Rue may seem exploitative to some, it actually gives the actress quite a showcase as she dominates the screen for that entire amount of time, resulting in one of the film's few truly memorable (and most talked about) scenes. It will likely give her the exposure (pun intended) needed to further her career — so who's exploiting who? (Incidentally, the trucker who instigates this scene is played by co-screenwriter Todd Farmer.) Similarly, the role of the motel owner did not have to go to 3'10" actress Selene Luna, so I have to applaud the filmmakers for their creative casting in what could have been a role display of the same old faces.

Even in a 2-D theater, the 3-D aspects of My Bloody Valentine 3-D were a lot of fun, like the rest of the movie. (This is important since only a third of theaters are actually showing it in 3-D.) The visual effects team really earned their money on this one. A couple of scenes (one in particular involving a jawbone) elicited actual guttural sounds from my companion and me, neither of whom have seen a horror movie in a theater since Halloween: H20 in 1998. Coincidentally, that film was edited by this film's director, Patrick Lussier, an experienced editor of other horror films like the Scream trilogy — he also co-edited this one — so it's obvious he knows how to literally assemble a slasher enterprise by putting all the pieces in the right order.


Ray said...

The special effects look good - but not sure about the new 3-D. Objects being hurled out of the screen are a bit 'old fashioned'. Dates back to the days of red and green specs and 'House Of Wax' (the Vincent Price version).But what did impress me was the way the fireball bursts up the mine passage - now that was good.
3-D is a useful tool and could enhance involvement in a movie. Think of Bruce Willis coming through the window in 'Die Hard'. Or the chopper coming down in'Black Hawk Down' think how those scenes would play in 3-D. I could go on but throwing things out of the screen just doesn't impress me much.

Craig Clarke said...

Thanks for your comments. My favorite effect was actually the one where the masked face appears as the light bulbs are being smashed. Nicely subtle and effective.

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