My Bloody Valentine (2008) Review

I’m tempted to say that there’s no reason for the remake of My Bloody Valentine to exist apart from the 3-D effects. However, to be honest there’s no reason for any horror remake to exist. Most of the recent examples - Friday The 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes - have added nothing to the originals apart from better special effects and occasionally they have actually traduced their forebears through the involvement of the original directors as producers. If the upcoming remake of Nightmare On Elm Street does anything much other than make us remember how good the original one was, I may have to eat my own spleen.

My Bloody Valentine does have two advantages however, Firstly, the original film, though fondly remembered by those who saw it in a double-bill with Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse, wasn’t one of the better slasher movies and now looks so tame that it could be a generic TV-movie product. Secondly, it’s filmed in the extra dimension which does at least offer an added degree of entertainment. Neither of these factors does much to make the film a must-see but for mindless Saturday night entertainment, it’s a far better bet than most of the straight-to-DVD slasher movies which are currently clogging up the shelves of Blockbuster.

The original My Bloody Valentine from 1981 was a standard slasher item in which the sole survivor of a mining accident returns after twenty years to wreak vengeance on a town which has the temerity to hold a Valentine’s Day dance on the anniversary of the catastrophe. This remake is similar in structure but rings a lot of changes and involves young Tom Hanniger (Ackles) returning to his home town ten years after a mining disaster for which he may have been partly responsible. Back then, a group of teenagers were killed by, Tom claims, the sole survivor of the disaster. Now, a decade later, the murders start again and Tom is the prime suspect.

Patrick Lussier, the director, isn’t a great genre talent but he gets the plot going swiftly and has an eye for a gruesome effect which refreshingly lacks any redeeming sense of taste. Add 3-D to this and you have a guaranteed recipe for gorehound satisfaction. I’m not sure which murder I like best but the pickaxe through the eye – which gratifyingly bursts off the screen – is a definite contender and the jaw broken off and flung into the audience is even better. On the other hand, can you do better than a shovel in the face of an irritating teenager or a blade straight down into a bald bloke’s head. This is all a definite step forward from the effects in Friday The 13th Part 3 and is reason enough for horror nuts to watch the film. However, while the nastiness is pleasingly old-school – no PG-13 nonsense here – and generally low on lingering sadism, some of the other retro elements are less welcome. I’m not sure that having a screaming naked woman running from the killer is the kind of thing which plays too well in the 21st Century, especially when the chosen shots are so gratuitous. Some may feel I’m being needlessly PC but it troubles me that childishness like this is still considered necessary to pull in audiences – and it’s especially notable that the trucker with whom she has just copulated is allowed to put his clothes on before being eviscerated.

Perhaps the aforementioned scene is more out of place because the general level of sexism is otherwise quite low. The women, while not entirely liberated from clichés, are fairly tough and independent with Jaime King making a very likeable “final girl”. The men aren’t quite so likeable and Kerr Smith as Sheriff Axel is wildly unsympathetic. Jensen Ackles makes a reasonably good fist of the misunderstood hero but he’s a bland presence and I can’t distinguish him from the other hundred young male actors who look so similar. In support, there are welcome appearances from Tom Atkins and Kevin Tighe, distinguished genre veterans both, although both supply such succulent slices of prime ham that it’s hard to take the seriously. The presence of Atkins, incidentally, reminded me of some plot similarities to The Fog, another case where the deeds of town fathers come back to haunt their children.

The film looks very professional, largely thanks to superb location cinematography from Brian Pearson who has only recently emerged from direct-to-video work and deserves more assignments. The mine locations must have been a nightmare to work in and the film makes the most of them with plenty of low-lit atmospherics. Indeed, obvious silliness and a ridiculous plot twist aside, the film is better than I expected and, with some reservations, I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys horror but doesn’t take it too seriously.

The Disc

The disc, from Lionsgate, is a two-sided affair which contains both a flat and a 3-D version of the film. Two pairs of 3-D glasses are included.

On both sides of the disc, the film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and has been anamorphically enhanced. The 2-D version of the film looks gorgeous with rich colours, plenty of detail and a nice, sharp appearance. The 3-D version suffers from the usual limitations of the system. Backgrounds are blurry and colours are muted. However, the 3-D effects still work very well. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is excellent throughout with effects sneaking up on you on the surround channels and very strong music.

The extras are contained on the 2-D side of the disc. We get an audio commentary from Patrick Lussier and screenwriter Todd Farmer which is enthusiastic and, ultimately, rather dull. There’s only so many times that you can hear people expressing mutual admiration before wanting a bit of scandal. The two featurettes aren’t a great deal better. The first, a making-of piece, lasts about seven minutes and doesn’t get much across other than how the film was difficult to shoot and how good the cast were. The second, about the special effects, is devoted to how a couple of make-up effects were achieved and is interesting but, at five minutes, very brief.

The film comes with optional English subtitles.

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