My Bloody Valentine 3-D is a film comfortable in its own skin… even if that skin is either impaled, gouged, filleted or otherwise decimated by its pickaxe-wielding killer.
Count me as one of the chorus members who bemoans each and every new "re-imagining" of old horror films. I found the latest Texas Chainsaws to be dull blades at best, the new Prom Night to be just as awkward and unfulfilling as my own, and I really have no real urge to see Jason arrive on his unlucky Friday in a few weeks (but I'm sure I'll still go).
But by dressing it with the novelty of 3-D, the creators of Valentine have taken a forgotten, otherwise expendable little slasher film from back in the day and gave it a William Castle-style jolt. For those unfamiliar, Castle was the legendary director who in the '50s resorted to gimmicks like buzzers in theater seats for some of his films to entice audience involvement.
The use of 3-D is certainly nothing new for horror films, as everyone from Jaws to Jason has at one time promised "a new dimension in terror" or some weak derivative. But it is only recently that the medium has been perfected, ditching the old school red-and-blue tinted glasses (called anaglyph) for the much more fluid "Real 3-D" and "Dolby 3-D"," in which patrons sports gray-tinted shades that reduce the risk of headaches often incurred by the former. It is no longer seen as a hokey gimmick and is becoming more and more commonplace for animated films to be released in this format (in theaters that can project this format) simultaneously with 2-D versions.
And Valentine certainly realizes that this added dimension is its biggest (perhaps only?) selling point. From the signature weapon of choice for the film's killer to various other objects (tree limbs, ham hocks, eyeballs), Valentine is not stingy with its device and hurls things at the audience at a brisk clip. It's even conveniently set in a mining shaft, whose cavernous walls allow for excellent scope. Fans of the genre will also be happy to note that it is quick to the bloodshed, punctuating the film with several inventive impaling, creative crushings and slick slaughters.
But perhaps even more surprising is the film's little Scooby-Doo-style mystery that had me and my viewing mates guessing until the end. It's not perfect and does bend the rules a bit, but for those seeking more accurate crime scene analysis, there's more than likely a procedural drama on television right now for you.
The original film was notable to young gore hounds such as myself in the pages of Fangoria magazine (imagine Entertainment Weekly, with more dismemberings), which previewed the film's deliciously bloody deaths in full color. As with most films of the era, the result was not the sum of its body parts. But the producers of the remake have apparently recognized its strengths (the gore) and realized its flaws (everything else), and have crafted an efficient little scary, fun date movie that claims to be nothing more.
The plot, if it matters, concerns an incident in a small Pennsylvania mining town in which an accident brought tragedy to the town. In it, a group of miners were trapped inside, all killed by a co-worker who was not all that into sharing the limited oxygen below. He emerges from his coma after a year and, muscle atrophy be damned, manages to massacre an entire hospital in a violent rage. A decade later, similar killings befall the same sleepy town.
The only actor worth mentioning is the elder cast member who serves as a shout-out to old school horror fans. Tom Atkins, veteran of such '80s-era horror flicks as Halloween III: Season of the Witch, The Fog, Creepshow, and Night of the Creeps plays a sheriff who supposedly originally disposed of the killer years ago, only to find that he may not have sealed the deal.
Director Patrick Lussier's prior credits include crappy direct-to-video fodder that would not suggest this film would have any mark of quality whatsoever. And while his skills here are not top tier, they are better than the average genre junk that pummels audiences into sensory overload.
My Bloody Valentine by no means redefines the genre or reinvigorates the device of an added dimension. But where it succeeds is in embracing both, accepting them for what they are and offering viewers a wholly entertaining diversion, filled with cheap, effective thrills and senseless mayhem that are the staples of the slasher film.
(Those who view the 2-D version, though: Enter at your own risk.)