Halloween Endurance Test: My Bloody Valentine (2009)

Oh my. Patrick Lussier’s My Bloody Valentine is our first double-whammy of the season. Not only am I having to sit through the mess that is the remake of My Bloody Valentine, but barely a minute in and the 3D glasses are hurting my eyes. I’d watch the normal, 2D side of the disc, but what fun would that be?

The movie starts with a literal bang, with an underground mine explosion. Immediately bringing to mind the last questionable remake I watched, Day of the Dead, and its own conclusion. Causing me to wonder if this film is a spiritual sequel to Day of the Dead. I mention this as a warning so that if I get so bored I break off into a(nother) tangent connecting the two films, you’ll know where I’m coming from.

Fan-fiction wet dream fantasies aside, My Bloody Valentine actually posits something new into the remake formula. The movie wastes no time ushering in explosions and pick-ax murders, and this is all done without the benefit of an explanation. Besides a short intro montage explaining about how there was a mine explosion with one survivor, Harry Warden, whom everyone believes left the others to die, there’s almost no backstory.

It’s as if the filmmakers realized that everyone knew it was a remake, and thus already knew the story, so they focused on the kill scenes instead. An interesting tactic with these films. I mean, how else can you explain starting the film with not one, but two, prologues?

The mine explosion setting up the murders (which occur as if they were in real-time) which precede the main story. A main story that doesn’t actually begin until 20-30 odd minutes in!

“Guys, trouble on 3. Red’s into it again. C’mon let’s go, double-time!”

As irritating as this continuity-be-damned! backstory is turning out to be, when it works, it kills. Such as when Red (Jeff Hochendoner), a hapless miner, meets the Valentine murderer. Rather than acquiesce to an ax-pick to the skull, Red punches his adversary straight in the mug and then alerts the rest of the mine.

Red’s compadres waste no time coming to his aid, using that one emboldened line above to explain everything we’ll ever need to know about the Red character in five seconds. Bravo, lazy yet occasionally correct filmmakers, bravo.

Bravo also for this, the most suspenseful shot in the entire movie. Letting us see the Valentine Killer in the distance during a camera pan, only to find him gone when the camera returns. Works every time.

Unfortunately, Red’s attack scuttles what was left of this film’s meager plot. Up to the attack, the killer’s identity was split between two people: Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) and Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith). Tom is hated throughout the town; being blamed for the original murders and also because he was planning on selling the mine which is the town’s lifeblood. Axel is an adulterous Sheriff with anger issues.

Strong cases can be made for either being the killer until Red’s murder takes place. A murder that takes place right in front of Tom, thereby eliminating any suspense we might’ve been fostering about who the killer is.

At least until the film throws in the worst swerve since High Tension. I guess I really shouldn’t be blaming a horror movie for not being logical, but I really think the pay-off would’ve been stronger has they not opted for the easy “twist” ending. Still, you’d be surprised with just how many horrible things a pickax can do to you.

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