My Bloody Valentine (2009)

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

Film review by: Witney Seibold




            I had to break my remake embargo to see “My Bloody Valentine,” a do-over of a 1981 Canadian slasher. I haven’t seen the recent remakes of “The Hills Have Eyes,” “The Hitcher,” “The Omen,” “Halloween,” “The Unborn,” “Prom Night,” “Black Christmas,” “The Hills Have Eyes, part 2,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” nor any of the American versions of Asian horror films (“The Grudge” notwithstanding). What’s more, I will not see the upcoming remakes of “Friday the 13th,” “The Last House on the Left,” or the proposed remakes of “Poltergeist,” “Predator,” “The Stepfather,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Hellraiser,” “They Live,” “Near Dark,” “Angel Heart,” “The Birds,” “Child’s Play,” “Children of the Corn,” or “It’s Alive.” I’m tempted to see the remake of “Suspiria” because it may be directed by David Gordon Green. And I’ll likely see the new version of “The Wolf Man” with Benicio Del Toro.


            I’m not against remakes as a practice per se; indeed Martin Scorsese’s film “The Departed” was a remake of a Hong Kong actioner, and that one was pretty terrific (to cite one recent example). What I object to is the blatant and cynical financial exploitation of a familiar horror property that is transparently banking on the nostalgia and curiosity of gawking twenty- and thirty-somethings. The teens see these horror remakes because of a general bloodlust (which I can understand), and a vicarious nostalgia through the generation older than they, not to mention a refusal to see any classics that are over five years old.


            A word to any teenage horror fans who may be reading this: there’s a reason that horror “classics” are often referred to as “classics:” For the most part, they are good-to-great films that reshaped the genre in one way or another. Don’t bother to see Rob Zombie’s ultra-grimy “Halloween.” See the 1978 John Carpenter film, and you will have seen the better film. And, you will have explored the history of the genre you claim to so love. If you stop seeing these damned remakes, then Hollywood will perhaps get the idea, and stop making these things. And you will have a better film education by seeing the tentpoles.


            Oh, but I haven’t gotten to “My Bloody Valentine” yet. Let me explain why I had to break my remake embargo to see this 2009 version of the 1981 film, directed by Patrick Lussier (“White Noise 2,” “Dracula 2000”), and starring pretty much no one of note: It was released in 3-D.


            Yes, despite all my eggheaded rantings, and browbeating know-it-all film snobbery, I was suckered in for a simple, old-timey film gimmick. I had not seen a slasher film in 3-D since the 2005 3-D Film Festival where they screened “Friday the 13th part 3, 3-D.” I’m a sucker for a good gimmick. The promise of bloody hatchets coming right at me, and severed heads falling in my lap was too much to resist. The preview even had an audience reaction shot. There are few things more giddily fun than seeing a movie audience all wearing 3-D glasses.


The actual poster

The actual poster



            So how was the 3-D? It was terrific. Probably the best I’ve seen since “Captain Eo.” The image was as clear as I’ve seen, and the long dark mine shafts and grocery aisles really managed to look like they were stretching out away from you. The predictable pickaxes-to-the-face were also a lot of fun. I have yet to see a film that truly incorporates 3-D technology properly into the drama, but if the technology continues to improve, perhaps we will someday. I’m not holding my breath, though.


            So how was the film? Mediocre. The story was not all that compelling: years ago, a man committed a buncha pickaxe murders in a local mine, and promptly fell into a coma. He wakes up in the present, and kills a buncha more people. We are introduced to a love square: Sarah (Jaime King) is married to the bitter local sheriff (Kerr Smith) who is having an affair with Sarah’s co-worker (Megan Boone). Sarah’s old flame Tom (Jensen Ackles) has returned to town after an absence to sell the mine he owns. There are romantic complications too boring to mention, and a lot of suspicious behavior on everyone’s parts, all in the name of concealing the true identity of the masked killer who pops up every third scene to pickaxe someone.


            “My Bloody Valentine” commits two mortal sins of filmmaking. One: It introduces us to an off-screen killer, and then never includes him in the story. That’s right, all the murders at the beginning of the film have little-to-no bearing on the rest of the story. Two: It shows us key events, and then flashes back to them, changing vital details. This is a transparent jerk-around. It’s not being sneaky, revealing small details we may have missed the first time, but actually changing the entire scene from how we saw it the first time. The director had to include these jerks-around to incorporate a “twist” ending. The twist is stupid, the narrative is stupid, and the story is not worth it.


            I do have to note one actress, however. Betsy Rue. Rue plays a character named Irene who has sex with a cad, chases him outside in anger, is attacked by the killer, rushes into a motel room, hides under a bed, is trapped behind a wire bedframe, and is finally pickaxed… all while completely in the nude. Seeing so much prolonged full-frontal nudity in a horror film is more than just an exciting prurient joy; it is a refreshing and bold throwback to the horror films of the ‘70s and early ‘80s when nudity was used more liberally, and the sex was more fun. Finally, we of a certain age think to ourselves, they’re allowing breasts and pubic hair back into our mayhem. Brava to Betsy Rue for agreeing to appear nude in “My Bloody Valentine,” and still managing to act the heck out of her scenes.

Betsy Rue, dressed and fearless

Betsy Rue, dressed and fearless

Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. hurray for breasts and pubic hair!!!!

  2. Hear hear.

  3. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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