Ten years ago, inexperienced miner Tom Hanniger caused an accident in which led to the deaths of five miners and sent the only survivor, Harry Warden, into a coma. Exactly one year later, Harry woke from his coma to head to the town of Harmony and murder twenty-two people before he was killed. Ten years later, Tom Hanniger returns to Harmony, struggling to cope with the past. His ex-girlfriend has now married his best friend and he is unwelcome in the town. But no soon as he returns to the town, the murders start up again. It seems that Harry Warden isn’t so dead after all.
I’m not a fan of remakes. That’s a bit of an understatement but I’m just sick of the current Hollywood trend to constantly remake older films instead of actually using it’s imagination to create new material. There are remakes which modernise classic films that everyone knows well. For horror fans, this is the likes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Classics which have no business being remade as the originals still pack a punch today. Then there are those remakes of films which hardly anyone outside of the genre saw in the first place or aren’t as well known. You’ve got your likes of April Fool’s Day, Night of the Demons and The Toolbox Murders. I don’t usually mind these type of films being remade as usually the originals aren’t much cop and the majority of the audience don’t have the same affinity to the originals as they do the classics mentioned above.
The original My Bloody Valentine could arguably fall into either category. The original, whilst not well known outside of the genre, is a classic slasher and is one of the genre’s true greats which was savagely treat by the censors and is usually seen as one of the poster boys for the anti-censorship bandwagon that began rolling in the 80s when horror films were being cut left, right and centre. However it wasn’t perfect and whilst it’s clearly adored by many horror fans, the fact that it’s not mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Halloween and Friday the 13th meant that it was less likely to receive a big backlash against remaking it. At least not from me anyway.
Truth be told, My Bloody Valentine does exactly what it sets out to do. It hardly insults the original but it doesn’t change the formula much to be able to do that. Faithfully sticking to the majority of the original’s premise, this remake not only succeeds in bringing it to life in a more modern setting but also improves some aspects of the original in the process. That’s not to say that it’s an overall improvement as some of the key ingredients from the original are sorely lacking here, in particular the sombre mood which is virtually absent in this one and is instead replaced by a lighter tone. Of course the polish and gleam of modern day slashers also detract from the gritty, low budget feel of some of the earlier 80s slasher greats. The holiday itself doesn’t play a huge part in this one either which is a bit of a shame but once the action starts heating up then this is a minor inconvenience.
If you’ve been lucky to catch the 3-D version then you’re in for a right treat with blood and guts flying around the screen like confetti. If you think you’re going to survive without a pickaxe being aimed in the direction of the audience then think again. The gore is one of the film’s strongest points and great use is made of the pickaxe – in fact the killer hardly uses anything else. Despite this sounding repetitive, there are all manner of creative kills involving the pickaxe from decapitations to eye-gougings and impalements so you’re never going to see the same thing time and time again. It’s obvious that whoever came up with the kills was having a blast doing it and this enjoyment is reflected on the screen. You shouldn’t cheer when they happen but they’re so damned entertaining that it’s hard not to applaud. There is a solid body count too so once the killer miner gets doing what he does best, the pace of the film rarely lets up. The film may run for about ten minutes longer than it needs to but it’s never boring.
The cast isn’t particularly great but they’ve been cast for aesthetic reasons alone. The norm for this day and age is to cast hot young actors from teen-targeted TV series and this time they’ve recruited Jensen Ackles from Supernatural and Kerr Smith, formerly of Dawson’s Creek, into the fold. I guess the target demographic will be happy with that casting. Thankfully, though their appearances smack of cheap casting techniques to attract a certain audience, the characters that they portray are a bit older than usual: young adults as opposed to teenagers. They spend less time with the mushy making out and shows of teenage petulance that bog other slashers and instead focus on the different directions that their lives have taken. Hardly riveting stuff and you’ll want the miner to intervene in some of the dramatic scenes to silence the cringe-worthy dialogue but at least it’s different to the norm. Veteran Tom Atkins has a small role as the local sheriff and he’s one of the best things on show, firing off some witty lines and adding a touch of class. The role is meatier than I expected which at least shows that someone had an ounce of sensibility to cast a genre character actor in it.
Half of the enjoyment from My Bloody Valentine comes from the 3D so make you sure you can catch it in that format to get the full package. As it stands, My Bloody Valentine works far better than it has any right to do with some inventive kills, a nice pace and general sense of good nature surrounding it. It nails the traditional slasher elements down to a tee, provides a few twists and turns along the way and delivers way more than it promised. It will at least put a mean-spirited smile on your face on Valentine’s Day.