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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

My Bloody Valentine 3-D (review)

Scooby Slack

I was about ready to give My Bloody Valentine 3-D a passing grade, if just barely. I was ready to say, “Well, the plot is ridiculous and the dialogue is worse, and the acting ranges from flat and bad to histrionic and bad. But it’s worth a look for the stupendously goofy 3-D effects of axes flying out at you and blood splattering in your direction.” But then the movie did something unforgivable: it cheated at the end. In such a huge way that it’s the most stunningly bad thing about the movie. And it’s not like there’s not a lot of competition for the bad here.
There’s something so slasher-movie old-fashioned going on here, in how the first victims are the ones who’re having sex when maybe they shouldn’t be, in how the masked, ax-wielding killer isn’t interested in drawing out the pain and suffering of anyone — like we see in today’s torture porn — but just wants to dispatch his victims as quickly as possible. It’s brutally graphic, both the nudity and the gore, which is decidedly not like anything we’d have seen in a slasher flick 30 years back, but still: it brings (for a while) a kind of cheesy charm to the below-lowbrow proceedings.

Those proceedings? There’s a mad gas-mask-wearing homicidal maniac on the loose in the mining town of Harmony, who is either the reincarnation of the mad gas-mask-wearing homicidal maniac who went on a murderous rampage 10 years earlier, or is a copycat mad gas-mask-wearing homicidal maniac. The cast, refugees from WB and CW teen soap operas with a smattering of has-beens (hey, it’s that dude from Emergency!) get picked off at a regular clip, or hang on to maintain their red-herring status.

Who is the killer? When I was ready to send Valentine away with a small gold star, I was going to deploy an approving Scooby-Doo reference, as a way to acknowledge its deep ludicrousness. But I can’t do that now, because the joke I would have made would actually give away that secret. It seems that screenwriters Todd Farmer and Zane Smith (working from the script for the 1981 film of the same name of which this is a nominal remake) didn’t realize that their “clever” ending is straight outta old cartoons about stoner detectives who solve mysteries, and director Patrick Lussier (White Noise 2) isn’t clever enough to pull off this “twist” without realizing he should at least have been ironic about it. Roh-oh!


MPAA: rated R for graphic brutal horror violence and grisly images throughout, some strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • mel

    The ending was AWESOME!

  • MaryAnn

    Please explain.

  • Laura

    [[SPOILERS HERE. Don’t spoil without a warning! –maj]]

    When Tom was in the mine shaft, and Red was being attacked by Henry- did you not see the parallel between Tom and Henry? The way they stood up slowly at the same time, face to mask, while Tom was ‘locked’ in the cage?
    That’s not a cheat…that’s foreshadowing.
    I liked the ending. Tom being insane and committing the murders with a dual evil personality?
    That is more probable than most horror movies ever get.

  • [[SPOILERS HERE–maj]]

    I liked the ending. Tom being insane and committing the murders with a dual evil personality?
    That is more probable than most horror movies ever get.

    Ugh, really? Sounds ridiculously trite, and anything but rare. 2005’s High Tension springs to mind immediately. And of course outside the horror genre you’ve got Fight Club, Usual Suspects, and even Identity.

    Not to mention, you know, fucking Psycho.

    There will be plenty of movies featuring excellent 3D that we can see really soon, I’m happy to skip this one.

  • Also, MaryAnn, how about a second article with spoilers for those of us who have seen the movie or don’t plan to? It was very useful when you did it for Seven Pounds, reinforcing my flight instinct.

  • MaryAnn

    It’s not worth discussing this movie any further, Newbs. There’s really no there there.

    That’s not a cheat…that’s foreshadowing.

    I didn’t say that was a cheat. It is indeed foreshadowing. That doesn’t mean it’s done well.

  • Kit

    Hi there, long time reader, first time poster. I didn’t think of the ending as a cheat, but I was comparing it to the original, where Tom (or the equivalent thereof) is killed off by the killer but somehow is also the killer. This may have been a cheat by the standards of a decent narrative, but at least it doesn’t cheat on basic laws of physics.

    I grade horror movies on a sliding scale, something you’re not willing to do (and I’m glad your standards are a lot higher than mine). I enjoyed it; it made good use of the 3D gimmick, had a great score, some neat directorial suckerpunches, and I will say that it has been a long time since I’ve been scared by a horror movie rather than repulsed.

  • mel

    If you know the original than there are just two suspects for the killer. I liked it that they picked a different person than in the old version and the whole dual personality idea was not that bad!It was interesting! Sure there have been movies like Fight Club, Usual Suspects and Identity but none of them is a horror film.
    Ironic ending in a horror film? No, not really a good idea!
    The whole point of a slahser film is to kill it’s victim’s as quickly as possible!So that’s a good thing! Sure the old slasher flicks were not that brutal but that was cutting and not so much a choice of the movie makers.
    I get it that some people will not like MBV 3d but what’s the point of discussing the originality of plot in any remake? MBV might be a good remake but remake is remake.

  • Kit

    The whole point of a slahser film is to kill it’s victim’s as quickly as possible

    No, the point of a slasher is to scare. To terrify, to make dark corners seem a very unappealing possibility, to get across the idea that no one on screen is safe at any time. The only slasher that’s ever kept this up for its full run was the first Halloween, which has three onscreen deaths and no onscreen internal organs. This film definitely managed to maintain that tension in short to medium-sized bursts, but it wasn’t because of how many coffins it stuffed.

  • hermit

    While I agree that the ending was a bit of a cheat, I do disagree with the horror aspect. While this movie didn’t scare, it did do something better, it entertained. I was thoroughly in the movie for the 1hr and 45 min.

    [[Spoilers]]
    However, tastes vary and I respect that. But, I do have to say that the ending, while trite, was, in my opinion, very well acted by Jensen Ackles. I really disrespect critics, not pointing fingers here, who discount actors because of the network they are currently working on and therefore decide to group them all together. Mr. Ackles gives a great performance weekly on Supernatural, and while his performace here was a bit subdued, I did love the way in the end he switched from a frightened Tom to a smirking Harry. I loved the cold, hard look and the insane persistance he went after Axel and his wife.

    No, I’m not a blind fangirl. I’ve liked actors on certain shows but have noticed a difference in talent when out of their element. I don’t feel that’s the case here, considering what the actors had to work with.

    However, I do have to say, it was an entertaining movie and am really sorry you couldn’t enjoy it because it didn’t scare you enough and it had an ending you weren’t expecting. Also? While I was hoping the killer was Axel? I don’t think he would have been as effective.

  • hermit

    P.S.

    While I agree that Holloween did scare, it was also one of the first slasher movies and at that time, the thought of a masked serial killer was new. So yes, it did scare. But I have to wonder what effect it would have today as a horror movie with it’s cliched teen deaths, and killer that never dies.

  • Vergil

    I…am really sorry you couldn’t enjoy it because it…had an ending you weren’t expecting.

    Uh oh…

  • MaryAnn (Mon Jan 19 09, 10:21PM):

    It’s not worth discussing this movie any further, Newbs. There’s really no there there.

    Wow, that bad? Point taken. :)

    mel (Tue Jan 20 09, 1:30AM):

    Sure there have been movies like Fight Club, Usual Suspects and Identity but none of them is a horror film.

    Which is why I also brought up Psycho and High Tension, two horror flicks that use the same dual-personality conceit mentioned in the comments. And I haven’t even seen very many horror movies, so I’m sure there are more. The point is, there isn’t anything new or original about that sort of twist.

  • MaryAnn

    very well acted by Jensen Ackles [snip] while his performace here was a bit subdued

    I’d say “subdued” is being very kind. If I’ve seen this actor before he made so little impression that I’d swear I hadn’t seen him before (and I *have* seen some of *Supernatural,* I so I guess I have seen him before, and I still can’t remember him). And he made absolutely no impression whatsoever here, either.

  • Andrew

    My brother and I saw the movie and we agree on the ending. It was a cop-out and the far less satisfying way to go… I’m honestly willing to bet money that they shot it with Axel as the killer and it focus tested poorly, so they reshot. Seriously, watch and see if the DVD doesn’t have an alternate ending on it.

    In fact, the more we talked about it, the more we realized that there were about half a dozen clues and plot beats that made no sense unless Axel was the killer, and plus “I never told you , GASP YOU’RE THE REAL KILLER” is the most fucking trite reveal cliche there is.

    And if the movie wanted to be really clever, when whatsherface was pointing the gun at Tom and Axel, the Henry walking up behind her would have been actually Henry. “Fuck your post-Scream ‘the killer’s hiding in the cast’ menality! It actually was the same dude it was last time, he can just survive bullets and dig himself out of his own grave!” Come on, in a movie that started off taking such joy in being a throwback, that would have worked.

  • TackyV

    Ugh, really? Sounds ridiculously trite, and anything but rare. 2005’s High Tension springs to mind immediately.

    Exactly! During the whole ‘flashback’ of showing how he did it really brought High Tension to mind.

    I honesty found the movie to be horrible. The only enjoyment was making fun of it and even then that got old as I restlessly sat in my chair sighing and almost pleadingly waiting for it to end.

  • medea34

    i enjoyed the movie up to the big reveal at the end. i hated that it was so obvious who the killer was, but at the same time, if you believed what you were seeing on the screen (henry locking tom in the cage) it couldn’t have been tom.

    i wanted it to be the deputy. that would have been so frakkin neat.

  • jon

    lol I thought the most memorable part in the movie is when one of the guys gets killed, and right before he died he said “shit…” in the most dumb voice imaginable. The whole theater was laughing their heads off. I think we should just label all the scary movies being made nowadays ‘comedy’. If that happens, there may just be the chance that we’d forget the movie we’re watching is really actually a horror movie, and then totally catch ourselves offguard during the old “scared girl getting killed in the bathroom” routine.

  • Yonsan

    No, she’s right. This movie is terrible. I’d forgive the bad acting, slashers never really being known for Oscar worthy performances. I’d forgive the horrible writing or the “twist ending” which actually isn’t a twist at all.

    Actually I take that back. It seems so obvious throughout the entire movie that by the end I was actually thinking “No… they wouldn’t make the killer the person everyone suspected all along”. I was a bit taken aback by the sheer audacity of the film makers to do something so bland and to be so unapologetic about it too.

    No, what makes this film terrible is the survival of Officer Token, the only black man in the entire movie. I came to see a slasher film with crap flying out of the screen at me, and no slasher is complete without the minority member dying in a completely predictable and unnecessarily brutal fashion. I’m not a racist, I just believe in cinematic tradition.

    If they really wanted to shock me and possibly even make me think well of this movie, the real killer would have been Officer Token himself, enraged to the point of brutal and senseless homicide by being the only black man in town.

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