by David Cornelius
I generally cringe at the idea of complementing a movie with “it works for what it is,” which is a pleasant way of saying “it sucks, but I wasn’t expecting much anyway, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain about low expectations.” And yet here is “My Bloody Valentine,” hiding behind the tiny ambitions of a crummy slasher flick, wanting to thrill without having to bother with pesky things like quality. It’s a lousy movie all around, but I had a great time watching it. It’s stupidly entertaining and entertainingly stupid. So there you go. It works for what it is.Horror fans already know that “Valentine” is a remake of the 1981 film of the same name. That one, involving a killer dressed up as a gas-masked coal miner offing townsfolk around Valentine’s Day, was one of the more interesting thrillers to emerge in the post-“Halloween”/“Friday the 13th” slasher craze, if only by default. This new movie, penned by Todd Farmer (“Jason X”) and rookie Zane Smith and directed by Patrick Lussier (“Dracula 2000” and its terrible DTV sequels), retains several key elements from the original, most important of which is a sly sense of humor.
"A nasty, goofy treat for horror fans."
“Valentine” is, essentially, a great big wink of a throwback, celebrating the tacky showmanship of Reagan-era horror flicks. The only upgrade here is the effects work, always convincing in the blood-and-guts overkill (no pun intended). Everything else is totally, intentionally retro: the nudity is gratuitous, the “mystery” (as much as it is) is secondary to the thrills, and, unlike the grimy dourness of “torture porn,” the gross-out over-the-top violence is all in the name of sick, twisted fun.
The story kicks off with a bit of unexpected cleverness. (Make it last - it’s the only cleverness in the entire picture.) Playing on our expectations of horror movie clichés, the story tosses us a switcheroo, opening not at the start of a slasher tale, but the end of one, with a mineshaft full of gutted corpses and the killer dead at last.
We then jump ahead ten years, and the real start of the story: one of the survivors of the previous massacre has returned home, and wouldn’t ya know it, the killer - or someone imitating him - is back, with blood-soaked pickaxe in tow.
The actual drama of the picture is little more than lame filler, in which uncharismatic-but-at-least-they’re-attractive stars from the WB or the CW or whatever it’s called these days get tangled in love triangles and whatnot while trying to deduce the killer’s identity. The characters are dumber than a sock drawer, making the mystery painfully drawn out, but that’s OK, since the screenplay offers the absolute worst solution possible, a dim-witted chunk of “gotcha!” ridiculousness that’s not at all as brilliant as it thinks it is, so the longer the movie can delay the arrival of such an awful, movie-ruining reveal, the better.
Luckily, the movie often has other things on its mind. Namely, cheap thrills. The violence here is twnse and twisted in a way that will appeal greatly to regular readers of “Fangoria.” Lussier, a veteran horror movie editor (he’s cut, among others, “Scream” and “Halloween H20,” and he edited this one, too), has an cutter’s knack for pacing, and “Valentine” flies by with sharp rhythm, making all the jump-scares (and obligatory fake-outs) work superbly, especially if the row of screaming teen girls behind me are any indication. (They fell - loudly - for every “boo!” the movie tossed their way.) Lussier makes “Valentine” the cinematic equivalent of a carnival fun house ride.
Especially if you see it in 3D. Lussier throws everything right at you, employing all the old gimmicks; stuff points at, flies at, crashes into your face, and the effects crew is eager to use the upgraded 3D technology (the “Real-D” technology is a huge step up from even the best old school polarized glasses; the depth created here is breathtaking) to make the most out of every trick. Even if it’s all shallow nonsense, it’s a great big hoot - the sights of the pickaxe coming right at you may be as pointless as the paddleball sequence in “House of Wax,” but it serves the same purpose, to make the audience cheer with fun park delight.So, as I said before, there you go. “Valentine” is a total mess, filled with stupid characters, boring young actors, and laughable dialogue, but it’s also a hell of a fun time. The people who want to see this sort of thing will get exactly what they want out of it, and the people who don’t want to see this sort of thing won’t bother anyway. It’s a lousy movie but a highly effective horror movie machine. It works for what it is.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17503&reviewer=392
originally posted: 01/29/09 03:29:18