- Patrick Lussier
- Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsey Rue, Tom Atkins
- 101 min.
- Release Date
My Bloody Valentine contains two of the most gimmicky devices Hollywood has to offer: slasher horror and the recently resurgent marketing tool of 3-D. Both are employed to incite audience jolts, and together they’ve been used for years on every horror franchise imaginable, often to no avail given their contrived and shoddy nature. But this schlocky splatterfest features another element shyly redeeming its lesser aspects; to be precise, its unintentional humor which will have audiences rolling in the aisles at the movie’s absurdity.
Advertised as the ultimate experience for young couples horny—scratch that, hungry for shocks, the trailers come with the promise “Nothing says ‘date movie’ like a 3-D ride to hell!” Indeed, this downward spiral-of-a-movie travels right past Beelzebub’s fiery gates, heads into the ninth ring of Hell, where campy horror yarns find their home among history’s most notorious real-life (and fictional) serial killers and masked psychos. Audiences strap on their tinted 3-D glasses, sometimes rented and sometimes disposable depending on the quality of the theater, and endure the forced chills that ensue.
Eleven years ago in the sleepy town of Harmony, a cave-in trapped workers within a mineshaft, leaving psychotic miner Harry Warden (Richard John Walters) to slaughter the lot to conserve his own air. He ended up in a coma. Ten years ago, Warden awoke from his coma, massacred the hospital staff and crashed a drunken teen party, on Valentine’s Day no less, where his body count went soaring. He was stopped by local police. Now Harmony is plagued by the memory of Warden, and when the movie begins, someone is butchering innocents using his modus operandi, with seemingly no motive other than to propel the plot.
Reducing the movie to its basic structure, the outcome is essentially a glorified episode of Scooby Doo, complete with brainless pseudo-detectives out to solve a caper, and a mystery surrounding a masked wrongdoer (the killer sports a hardhat, breathing mask, and a miner’s jumpsuit). Unfortunately, there’s no talking dog, no stoner named Shaggy, and no evident sexual tensions between Fred and Daphne. There is, however, an extensive sequence featuring the “hottie” character Irene (Betsy Rue) engaging in random smutty sex; she then parades around naked for the next several minutes as she confronts her partner who videotaped their session, realizes that she’s next on the killer’s checklist, and then gets hacked up by his weapon-of-choice: a pick-axe. To my knowledge, that’s territory the Hanna-Barbera cartoon never covered.
Driven by soap opera-worthy acting, it’s no wonder the movie is populated by former actors of daytime television. Days of Our Lives alumnus Jensen Ackles plays Tom, who returns to Harmony to sell his father’s mine, the town’s livelihood, after disappearing a decade ago. Kerr Smith from As the World Turns is Sheriff Axel Palmer, who suspects ex-classmate Tom is the Warden copycat. But, to thicken the plot, Tom suspects Axel. Meanwhile, Tom’s one time high school sweetheart Sarah (Jaime King) still has the hots for him, despite her being married to Sheriff Axel. The love triangle unfolds and the killer’s stack of bodies continues to grow.
Credit must be given to the filmmakers behind My Bloody Valentine, because at least they attempt an involving mystery, which is more than can be said for most movies of this type. We could have endured mindless blood and gore with no story, but director Patrick Lussier (Dracula 2000) and his writers seem to care about the audience’s continual guessing. Granted, their effort remains as substandard as you’d expect from a sloppy exploitation film, and the “twist” finale is neither a surprise nor very clever. But, in any case, they tried.
Of course, much of the movie’s campy, inadvertent laughs result from barefaced trickery employed to maximize 3-D technology. Flying toward the viewer are fire, spraying blood, bullets, the killer’s pick-axe, and even a human jaw. At one point, a wary soon-to-be victim stands on his porch aiming his shotgun into the night; he pans the barrel over the audience, which caused mocking oohs and ahhs in my screening. Certainly such transparent attempts at thrilling viewers are no longer effective, if they ever were, and thus illustrate the dead state of 3-D in today’s marketplace.
But admittedly, My Bloody Valentine has enough blood and guts to satisfy die-hard aficionados of the genre—mostly because those moviegoers don’t care so much about craft or narrative, and instead rate their experience according to the number and severity of the deaths shown onscreen. For those of us not accustomed or totally devoted to cheap trash, the movie provides a few hearty laughs, a profusion of nonsensical stupidity, and plenty of so-bad-it’s-good moments to entertain viewers in the back row, whispering to each other about the inanity of it all.