Lionsgate // 2009 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // May 15th, 2009
Get Your Heart Broken
In the summer of 2008, both of the stars of the CW hit Supernatural headed off to make horror movie remakes of their own. Jared Padalecki went to Texas to shoot Friday the 13th and Jensen Ackles went to Pennsylvania to shoot My Bloody Valentine 3-D. Even more coincidentally, both movies were due to be released on the very same day -- February 13, 2009, which was a Friday (thus Friday the 13th wanted it) and Valentine's weekend (thus MBV wanted it.) Since Friday the 13th had more clout than the Lionsgate remake of a little known slasher flick, Valentine was forced into a January release, which made everyone on the Supernatural production staff breath a sigh of relief.
Four short months later and My Bloody Valentine 3-D is now on DVD.
A swirling mass of old newspaper headlines and sound bites sets the background. It all beings 11 years ago when Harry Warden and four other miners were trapped in a cave-in thanks to a mistake made by teenager Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles, Supernatural), son of the mine's owner. Harry survives by killing the other men with a pickaxe to conserve oxygen, but he falls into a coma before being rescued.
Flash forward a year (which is still 10 years before the majority of the film takes place), to Valentine's Day. Harry wakes up and kills half the people in the hospital. Then he heads back to the old mine where the (so-called) teenagers are partying the night away. Axel (Kerr Smith, Dawson's Creek) is here with girlfriend Irene (Betsy Rue), but it's clear he has eyes for Sarah (Jaime King, The Spirit ) who only has eyes for Tom. Let the massacre begin.
When it's all said and done, Tom is nearly killed by the vengeful Harry but Sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins) arrives and shoots Harry, who runs off into the tunnels, mortally wounded.
Flash forward 10 years. Tom Hanniger returns to town in order to sell the mine after his father's passing. Axel is now the sheriff, Sarah is now Axel's wife and it's Valentine's Day all over again. The Miner is back and he's slaughtering his way through the town but the question remains, who is the man beneath the suit? Is Harry Warden still alive? Or has someone else taken up the pickaxe in a gruesome tribute to the bloodiest day in the town's history?
Kevin Tighe (Emergency) also stars, and watch for a very revealing appearance by one of the movie's script writers, Todd Farmer as Irene's trucker friend.
My Bloody Valentine 3D is a remake of a Canadian slasher film that has a minimal cult following. I'll confess up front that my interest in the film was purely physical -- in that I never miss anything that stars Jensen Ackles. You can laugh at my utter devotion, but even writer Todd Farmer and director Patrick Lussier refer to Jensen as "dreamy" in their audio commentary and the adulation doesn't stop there. (Can you say, boy crush!)
What hooked me was the fact that underneath the slasher elements there is an actual mystery. In many slasher movies, such as Friday the 13th, we know who the killer is and it's just about who will survive the massacre. With Valentine it's all about figuring out who is the man behind the mask. Is it Harry Warden? Sheriff Axel? Tom or even the deputy? There are moments in the film that make any one of them a viable suspect and plenty of red herrings to throw you off track.
But I understand that most people will be tuning in for the gore and there's plenty to be had. The pickaxe may be The Miner's weapon of choice, but director Lussier twists that one tool into several very clever kills. More intriguing to me than the kills are the chase sequences that have men doing the trip and fall and a pair of resourceful ladies fending off The Miner in a small town grocery store.
Several of the movies' pivotal scenes were shot in a real mine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Having been in one of those mines myself, I can't imagine how they shot these action sequences without anyone getting seriously hurt. They have low ceilings, tight corners, sharp edges and a dampness that stays with you long after you're gone. Even without a psycho killer on the loose, mines are creepy and this one makes the perfect backdrop for the flick.
The mystery, the actors, the gore, aside, My Bloody Valentine drew in audiences with a gimmick. It was the first R rated full-length movie to be projected in Real D technology -- a modern version of 3D with cool glasses designed to drop you in the middle of the massacre. Blood and body parts fly at your face, the pickaxe makes a run at your nose, tree branches zoom past your head and the mine behind the characters seems to go on forever. Pretty cool, as long as you're sitting in a big movie theater. But more on that later.
First, let's look at the special features, most of which are on Disc Two.
There are two featurettes. "Sex, Blood and Screams" is a badly named special feature that gives you a closer look at the body doubles that were created to make the kills work on screen, and "Deep Inside My Bloody Valentine" takes you behind the scenes with video footage and interviews. Neither is very long but they both have some interesting insider info on the making of the movie.
There's a long list of deleted and extended scenes. A few of them added to the context of the movie but mostly they're very expendable. The gag reel is pretty standard, mostly people flubbing lines and having prop problems. There is one very funny bit where Megan and Jaime come around the corner in the grocery store chase scene and there's The Miner at the end of the aisle, only he's not supposed to be there. Megan's "we can see him" reaction makes it sound like she's afraid she's the only one who can. Highly amusing.
The alternate ending feature isn't much of an alternative to how it really ends, so I'm at a loss on that one.
Disc One contains both a 3D and 2D version of the movie on a double-sided disc. It also has the audio commentary by writer Todd Farmer and director Patrick Lussier. I really enjoyed this piece. Farmer is such an admitted fanboy and he lets his passion show in this very casual conversation with Lussier. Lussier offers up dozens of behind the scenes stories and he points out much of the subtle thematic work he added to the film, work that is so subtle, I wouldn't have seen it if he hadn't pointed it out. For Supernatural fans, there are a couple of fun stories about Jensen Ackles, an obligatory mention of his buddy Jared Padalecki and several references to the reactions of Supernatural fans themselves to the movie's twists and turns.
The audio and video on the film are as you'd expect from a new movie. There's a cool lenticular sleeve over the box and four pairs of 3D glasses inside. I would have liked to see the three lead actors represented in the artwork, but I'm probably alone in that.
My Bloody Valentine 3D was a decent-sized hit in the movies. When it was first released, many theaters offered both the 3D version and the 2D version (for those of us with motion sickness) but the 2D showings were curtailed early on due to the lack of audience. Some reporters said the 2D version was better for picking up the nuisances of the plot while the 3D version was just a great roller coater ride.
On TV, however, that roller coaster becomes one of those lumbering kiddie coasters you see at town fairs. The DVD comes with those old fashioned red and blue cardboard glasses that never sit right on your face. They're not even close to the sunglass-style of glasses that were given out at theaters and I can't imagine watching a whole movie with these things perched on your nose.
Being a person who gets nauseous in 3D, I asked my teenager to be the test monkey. He gave up after only a few minutes saying that even with the glasses on the red and blue halos were so obvious on the TV he couldn't get into the movie. The whole color palette was a muddy mess and though the 3D effect worked it was impossible to concentrate on what was actually going on in the scenes. We were watching on a hypersensitive HDTV, so your mileage may vary.
My Bloody Valentine 3D is the perfect beginner slasher film for those who want to work their way up to films like Friday the 13th. Most of the kills can be seen coming a mile away so you have lots of time to hide your eyes. When you're not hiding your eyes, there's plenty of pretty to go around with Ackles and Smith for the ladies and King and Rue for you boys. Here's where I should note that part of the R rating on this film comes from a very extended nude scene with Rue and Farmer, just in case that kind of thing bothers you.
If you like a little mystery in your splatter film, give this movie a shot. I was sure I knew who the killer was from the very beginning. I was just as sure when I changed my mind 40 minutes in, and then again 15 minutes from the end. Some nice misdirections, Lussier, I tip my hardhat to you.
This court declares My Bloody Valentine 3D to be guilty of gimmickry!
Now here comes my gavel flying straight for your head!
Review content copyright © 2009 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* 2D Version
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* 3D Glasses
* Official Site