My Bloody Valentine makes its highly anticipated return to the big screen, and by "highly anticipated" I mean "completely unnecessary." The gory horror flick, about a crazed miner who wanders around slaughtering people and carving out their hearts, does have one thing going for it, though: it's in 3D.
Jensen Ackles stars as Tom Hanniger, a man who has returned to his home town ten years after a crazed miner murdered dozens of people, including several of his friends. Upon his arrival, he discovers that his high school girlfriend (Jaime King) is now married to his former best friend, the town sheriff (Kerr Smith). When another former friend (Betsy Rue) is found brutally murdered, however, the townspeople begin to suspect that the original killer, Harry Warden, has returned to finish what he started. The sheriff, however, immediately suspects that Tom is responsible - but his wife isn't so sure.
My Bloody Valentine 3D is your pretty typical slasher film: bad acting, nudity and lots of gore. Director Patrick Lussier (Dracula 2000, White Noise 2) doesn't show particular care to the look of the movie, as the film lacks the grit that more successful slasher films of the 21st century have mastered. One person dies after the next, but Lussier shows little interest in originality or setup, as the picture flightily rolls from one slaughter to the next without savoring the prelude to the kill. The movie is shockingly unscary, in part thanks to the picture's poor editing. This is rather surprising given that Lussier, who also edited the film, has made a career of editing horror movies, including the first two Screams.
The issue is the same with all modern 3D movies: the director becomes distracted by the gimmick. With little interest in actually making a decent movie that effectively entertains the audience on its own interest, Lussier relies too heavily on 3D to please the audience. To be fair, though, the 3D aspect does make the movie worth it. Just barely. While I would not recommend the picture to anyone watching the film in a non-3D theater, the 3D is fun to watch. The Real3D is impressive, as the entire movie feels deep and multi-dimensional. This is not your old-school 3D film where there's an occasional knife stabbing its way to an inch in front of your eyes; every scene is three-dimensional, even when there's no gimmick to be had. That being said, there are several moments where a flying pick axe swings its way toward you, a bullet practically makes you cross eyed, or blood splatters out of the screen. Horror movies are prime for a gimmick like this, because you rarely expect serious production values anyway. At the same time, if you're expecting lots of in-your-face antics, you may be disappointed. It may just be that the screen I watched the movie on was rather small, but I've seen better 3D effects at the Muppets Show at Disneyland.
Even with the 3D, though, the story is hard to take at time. The characters are so poorly developed that it's hard to like any of them. The revelation of the killer does remain unclear until the very end thanks to some crafty back-and-forth efforts by the screenwriters, but ultimately they cop-out on doing something intelligent by deceiving the audience at the most basic level. The director should never lie to the audience unless we know to expect it; what happens at the end of My Bloody Valentine 3D is completely stupid, and not even executed very well.
Ackles, by the way, turns in the worst performance of his short career.
Having just watched the original 1981 movie a couple weeks ago, I do respect that some efforts were made to not simply copy that film. At the same time, if you're going to deviate from the source material, you should improve upon it - and that is not the case here. While the original was nothing spectacular, it worked well enough and actually featured a pretty creepy ending. My Bloody Valentine 3D botches the ending, offers little in the way of frightening moments or suspense and is only as good as the three-dimensional gimmick allows. The movie is worth seeing if you have 3D glasses and a group of friends who like B-grade horror movies, but that still doesn't make it a great movie.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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