My Bloody Valentine (2009)

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With such a glut of slasher movies released in the early eighties in the wake of Friday the 13th‘s unexpected success it seems that money-hungry studios and producers have an endless supply of material to work from. With the promise of new variations of The House on Sorority Row and A Nightmare on Elm Street in the near future, 2009 became the year of the slasher remake, kicking off in January with Lionsgate‘s 3D reboot of My Bloody Valentine, a Canadian thriller originally released in 1981 at the height of the boom. With the slasher genre only offering one previous 3D effort, 1982′s Friday the 13th Part 3, MBV was a welcome addition to the current cycle and became one of the most anticipated horror movies of the year. Drafting in the talents of Patrick Lussier, a frequent collaborator of Wes Craven and Dimension Films (cutting such flicks as Scream, Mimic and Halloween H20), and Jason X scribe Todd Farmer, Lionsgate launched an impressive advertising campaign that focused solely on the promotional gimmick of the 3D gore.

But, as any horror fan can tell you, there is more to a good movie than just graphic violence. There are several requirements that make an effective film, such as a strong script, likeable characters and plausibility, and if any of these are absent then the overall product can suffer. Slashers are often generic so the story is not always original or even intelligent, but events have to unfold at an adequate pace and the occasional twist can help keep the audience interested. Characterisation is more important than with most genres as the viewer’s sympathies must lie with the victim/protagonist, otherwise there is little suspense when they are placed in danger. The characters must also be believable and, where possible, reflect the film’s target audience, as a story is at its most effective when the viewer/reader can relate to the hero or heroine. It is this aspect that a bad slasher most often fails on, as boring characters can make for an uneventful story.

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The film opens with a tragedy in which a mine had collapsed and trapped five workers, with only one of them rescued six weeks later. In a coma and traumatised by the events, Harry Worden (Richard John Walters) eventually escapes one year later and seeks vengeance against Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles), who was accused of causing the accident after failing to follow all safety measures which had caused an explosion. Whilst partying in the mines late one night with a group of friends – including sweetheart Sarah (Jaime King) and lovers Axel (Kerr Smith) and Irene (Betsy Rue) – Tom comes face-to-face with the psychotic Harry but is saved at the last moment by the police, but not before his attacker flees back into the darkness of the mine.

A decade later and Tom returns to his hometown in order to sell the mine that his father had left him when he had died. Having left everyone behind shortly after the accident, he soon finds that he is greeted with hostility, especially as the town relies on the work brought in by the mine and him selling it on could cause much of the population to lose their jobs. Axel, meanwhile, has since become the sheriff and is married to Sarah, though he is also having an affair with Megan (Megan Boone), who helps out Sarah at her store. Whilst she is unsure how to feel about the return of Tom, Axel feels threatened by his wife’s ex being back on the scene, and events take an even more bizarre turn when Irene (Betsy Rue) and her trucker lover Frank (Farmer in his traditional cameo) are brutally murdered at the same motel that Tom has checked into.

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The authorities become even more suspicious of him when a miner is slaughtered whilst Tom is present, despite him being found trapped in a cage. It is soon revealed that soon after Harry’s bloody rampage ten years earlier he had been tracked down by Ben Foley (Kevin Tighe), a respected member of the community and Burke (Tom Atkins), the cop who had originally investigated the case. They head out into the woods to unearth his corpse in an effort to prove that Tom is the guilty party, only to discover that it is missing. Tom later tries to convince Sarah that Axel is the real killer, after finding evidence that he had been sleeping with Megan, who has also been killed. Unsure of whether to trust her husband or childhood sweetheart, Sarah is trapped by them both, knowing that one of them is the real killer, but which one?

As with Scream, My Bloody Valentine utilises the whodunit strategy that was common with the works of Agatha Christie, a major influence on the slasher genre. Whilst it is obvious almost immediately from the beginning that the killer must either be Axel or Tom, Farmer and Lussier attempt to fool and misdirect the audience for as long as possible, though sadly the final reveal seems like an anticlimax. Had the writers (the original draft had been penned by first-timer Zane Smith) thrown in a major twist by having Burke or even Sarah as the murderer then this could have proved effective, but revealing the prime suspect as the killer is too predictable. MBV also suffers from the same flaw as most slashers, with every character except the principals (in this case Tom, Sarah and Axel) being underdeveloped and used purely as pickaxe fodder.

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But Farmer has a fun sense of humour (as was evident with Jason X, a movie which divided the fan base more than any other sequel, with perhaps the exception of A New Beginning) and knows how to write humorous dialogue. Another key element to his style is the inventive kills that he creates, from the liquid nitrogen shattered head death in Jason X to a sequence in MBV when, soon after Farmer’s sleazy trucker is offered, Irene is chased back into her motel room (fans of the flesh will be pleased to see a full frontal of the actress) where she is pinned against the wall using the bed as a shield. As the killer swings his pickaxe, she uses the body of the bed to protect herself from the spike, although it is only a matter of time before he finally manages a lucky shot.

One aspect that MBV succeeds in leaps and bounds is the 3D, by far the greatest example of how to use the effects and far superior to not only the old red and green glasses that many of us grew up on but also more recent efforts such as The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl and The Nightmare Before Christmas. In one sequence, which was included in the theatrical trailer, the killer throws his pickaxe out at the audience, which is shown to leave literally the screen. This was not far from the truth as the shot does cause the viewer to flinch. Without the 3D effects, MBV is a by-the-numbers postmodern slasher – it does this job it is supposed to do but little else – but in 3D the movie is an exhilarating and enjoyable experience which is highly recommended for fans of blood and laughs.

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14 Responses to “ My Bloody Valentine (2009) ”

  1. I thought they chickened out with the ending, but all in all enjoyed the experience.

  2. I don’t agree with the review.3d isn’t revolutionary at all,it doesn’t add anything to the language of the movie.In fact,tricks like weapons that come out of the screen and such were widely used more than 20 years ago in the third friday the 13th.
    The movie itself is pretty confused and with a lot of plot holes (think about the supermarket scene) and it’s saved by the final part,which in fact succeeds in creating tension and has a nice atmosphere as well.I’d rate it a 6,5 on 10.

  3. If you read the review properly you will see that it states that the 3D used was revolutionary, which it was, it is a new style of 3D which is far more effective than the one used in Friday the 13th Part 3. And the comments on 3D are about the technique, the language of the movie is discussed earlier in the review!

  4. The 3-D and the gore, and Tom Atkins was the only thing it had going for it, I want my $20.00 back!!

  5. My boyfriend loved this movie. I was kind of cold on it. I agree the effects were great, but I miss Hollis and the gang.

  6. Great review Christian. I will say this was one of the better remakes but fell very short to the original. I agree with Amanda, as the cast in the original while not quite as pretty were far superior to the cast in the remake. The original was a much better told story and was much scarier. I would have liked to have seen a different ending but like I said, it was one of the better remakes thus far.

  7. heh heh yeah Hollis!!! “ok everybody, here we go! keep your hands inside!”

  8. I thought it was a fun remake. Yes, the ending was very silly, but everything leading up to it was purely frightening. The 3-D effects certainly were a plus. Great review, Christian!

  9. HEey everyone. :) I just wanted to comment about the movie. I really hope no one takes it to mind.
    But, My Bloody Valentine really sucked. Except for the ending. I know that sounds like ‘wow im glad this is over’ but thats not what I mean. I loved how when he hit the lights and when it went dark it was the killer and when it was light it was Tom. wow. And Jensen look some hot on the big screen. Lol but that is one movie tthat i seen that sucked. the story line was horrible. Except for that Tom was the killer….i didnt really get that. (confused)
    Love: Tiffy.
    P.S I love jensen<3 and that was a really great reviwe. :)

  10. I LOVE JENSEN!.
    But the movie did suck. I agree with tiffanie jarrett. It was really poorly done. Sorry ppl. :(
    But Jensen did look really hot on the screen.

  11. I enjoyed My Bloody Valentine. As a fan of the original, I had many doubts of how this version would play out. I agree that the form it was created in heightens the movie experience, watching the movie through 3D made you feel like you were a part of the movie. I had never viewed a movie in 3D before and this particular movie did not disappoint. The three main characters were the only developed ones and the rest of the cast was fodder. Tom was more complex than CJ in the original and Sarah was too dull for me. I actually liked Axel in this one opposed to the original. And if you think about it, I think it was obvious when Axel was the killer in the original.

    Overall, there should have been more explained like Tom’s past, and who the hell Harry Warden was because they gave that a minute over the opening credits to explain and that’s confusing for people who have not seen the original film.

  12. One of my favorite slashers of recent time. It had the right feel, tone, and environment. It definitley brought up memories and feeling of 80s slashers, which I love. There was a real feel of suspense in many places, and the deaths and gore were the best I have seen in a long time. And TOM ATKINS!!!. What more could I ask for?. Not a whole lot.

  13. This film had me until the end, which was just silly. Harry Warden back from the dead would have been better! They went to great lengths to show us that Tom wasn’t the killer and then do a 360 on us. Stupid.

    I only watched the 2D version, but felt the 3D wouldn’t have added much, in fact I feel the 3D limited the film somewhat, in getting to those bits, they abandoned what could have been some really effective gore sequences, just for the sake of 3D. (I can’t believe I just wrote that – complaining about a lack of gore – I once complained about the virtual pornography that was JC’s “Halloween 2″!!)

    Had it not been for that end, this would have been a really enjoyable remake, but all I’m left with is feeling let down and ripped off.

    Now onto Winchester boy remake #2; “Friday the 13th”, and Monday night screenings of Supernatural on Ten, Seriously.

  14. I’m confused Natalie. You feel the 3D version limited the film but you’ve only seen the 2D version? The sad fact is alot of horror movies today don’t go for hardcore gore (or they DO and the MPAA neuters them), but I didn’t see anything I thought was compromised just for the sake of 3D.

    I’ll admit the movie’s not great but it’s still better than I expected and the 3D actually made me jump a couple times (and I watched it on my laptop not in the theatre)!

    Overall, I prefer the original (especially the uncut version) but it was still nice to see a “real” slasher that wasn’t some Scream-inspired self-referential dreck like we’ve had to suffer through for so many years. I don’t know how this did at the box-office but hopefully movies like this, RZ’s Halloween, Hatchet, and others (love’ em or hate ‘em) will sound the death-knell for wink-at-the-camera slashers!

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