Screenwriters: Todd Farmer, Zane Smith, John Beaird
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith
Running Time: 101 mins
My Bloody Valentine is the second remake in the space of six months that appears to be justifying its existence with a 3D makeover. While Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was always going to be burdened by its origins as a Jules Verne classic, My Bloody Valentine 3D has no such lofty expectations, having started life as a 1981 Canadian cult slasher (with one eminent fan in Quentin Tarantino). The new version, a back-to-basics horror from genre veteran Patrick Lussier, boasts an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink mentality and malicious methods of dispatching its cast.
Taking place in the sleepy American town of Harmony, events are set in motion when young miner Tom (Ackles) causes an accident trapping his co-workers. One of them, Harry Warden, goes postal on his colleagues to conserve air. A further collapse in the mineshaft puts Warden in a coma, sparing Tom's life. Flash forward a year and Warden awakens on Valentine's Day and kills 22 more, cutting a striking image with his pickaxe and breathing mask. Among Warden's near misses before being gunned down by police are Tom, his girlfriend Sarah (King) and their weasley pal Axel (Smith). Ten years later and the action picks up with Tom returning to town just as the killer begins to strike again. Sarah is now married to Axel, a prominent local cop, supplementing the slicing and dicing with a frictious love triangle and murder mystery plot.
With digital 3D projection in its armoury, My Bloody Valentine makes the most of the nascent format. The first kill is literally an eye-popping one, seeing the masked murderer drive his pickaxe into the back of a victim's head and out through his eye socket. From there Lussier pushes the gore further into the extreme. A sex scene is quickly followed by two brutal killings, the second of which sees the blonde Irene (a brave Besty Rue) acting out her final moments wearing only high heels. Subtlety isn't on the agenda for My Bloody Valentine 3D, and though this prevents the build-up of any real tension, there's still a couple of 'jump' moments to get viewers out of their seats.
Lussier is attuned to genre conventions and sticks to the tried and tested formula that's worked since Halloween and Friday The 13th. Expect law enforcement officials to be incompetent beyond belief, sex and infidelity to be severely punished and anyone opening an ajar wardrobe in a dark hotel room to meet a grim demise. This is all very familiar - and take out the 3D element and My Bloody Valentine wouldn't be half as fun - but the film admirably decides not to take itself too seriously or push smug Scream-like self-reflexivity.
The action moves briskly, with the prologue needed to set up the convoluted backstories for the killer and protagonists told concisely. However, the final revelation about the murderer's identity is riddled with plot holes, while TV star Ackles appears to have had an ill-advised charisma bypass just prior to his first big screen leading man role. Yet the movie, with blood and entrails flying from the screen, is ideal Saturday night popcorn fodder, with its spiritual roots in early shockers from Vincent "King of 3D" Price and classic '80s gorefests.
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