Following Saturday’s review of the 1981 original My Bloody Valentine, here’s the concluding part of my Valentine’s special. I hope youa all had a bearable Valentine’s Day. Any of you that were dragged along to see 50 Shades of Grey, I have particular sympathy for.
Lionsgate threw at lot at this movie, with a reasonably high budget for horror, but with good reason. Way back in the distant year of 2009 this was the first horror movie to employ the then new RealD 3D effects – the sort that transforms the cinema into a Roy Orbison lookalike contest, rather than the old “complementary cardboard glasses & migraine” effects that have popped up occasionally (ha) over the years. It paid off – the gimmick of blood & guts flying out of the screen rather than blue Pocahontases & leaves attracted enough cinemagoers to make it one of the top grossing slashers ever. However, there remains an important question: is it any good?
A convoluted opening credits montage sets up an identical backstory to the original movie’s villain, albeit somewhat harder to comprehend, even 24 hours after watching the original. After here the similarities are far between, other than the mine setting, killer Harry Warden’s appearance & some nicely tacked-on visual homages, the storyline & characters aren’t just updated or reimagined, rather completely different. 10 years after Harry’s Valentine’s Day rampage, Tom, the son of the recently deceased mine owner, returns after running away following the harrowing events. Naturally, his old friends have mixed reactions to his return, not aided by the inconvenient fact that people start getting killed by a familiar figure in a miner’s suit. The film opens on a brilliantly excessive flashback scene that at first seems terribly cliched but swiftly throws away the rules of a slow build throwing us straight into the action. There’s a sense of self-awareness that remains for much of the film, not least through the first half which would easily complete a bingo sheet of trashy horror tropes, but still manages to work them into the plot in a half-believable manner. It’s not high art but any film that has a sequence seamlessly culminating in the killer chasing a totally nude woman through a motel only to be distracted by a dwarf looking for her pet dog has had some care put into it by some delightfully mental writers.
This single-minded dedication to gratuitous depravity slowly gives way to the main plot building up the various dislikeable characters’ relationships & grudges held against each other with a Hollyoaks-esque melodrama. The men glare at & threaten each other like testosterone-driven drones while the women scream a bit & are reduced to quivering wrecks whenever one of the men make their best Blue Steel pose. It’s all incredibly trashy, brainless fun that eventually develops into a relatively unpredictable whodunnit with a tense climax. After the big reveal there is one scene that has a very neat visual trick which will have you going through frame-by-frame to ensure you really did see what you think you saw.
Never making us particularly care about any of the characters, we’re left to enjoy the cartoony, overblown kills that have the anatomic accuracy of the most ridiculous Final Destination moments and make fantastic use of the 3D gimmick. There isn’t a dull moment for the whole film, and it’s quite confusing to see how so many terrible, trashy elements have been fitted together so cleverly to form a film that seamlessly shifts from bottom-shelf trash to melodramatic slasher to tense cat & mouse whodunnit. I can’t even call what parts of it are intentional or happy accident, but at the end of the day it’s a lot of fun & a great update to the original.