|My Bloody Valentine (2009)
|Todd Farmer and Zane Smith
|Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Edi Gathegi, Tom Atkins, Kevin Tighe and Megan Boone
„You see! Harry wasn‘t buried alive in that mine but he is sure as shit dead and buried“ – Axel
An accident happens inside the mines in the town of Harmony and buries alive six miners. A rescue search finds only one survivor, Harry Warden, who‘s rushed to the hospital and remains in a coma. The authorities deduce that Harry killed the other miners to save oxygen. On Valentine‘s Day Harry wakes up and kills 22 people, including teenagers who are partying in the mine. Harry dresses up in mining gear and violently dispatches of the teens and among the crowd are Tom Hanniger (Ackles), son of the owner of Hanniger Mines and the one who caused the initial accident, his girlfriend Sarah (King), fomer pal Axel (Smith) and his girlfriend Irene (Rue) who narrowly escape. The local law enforcement catches up with Harry and seem to disopose of him.
Fast forward 10 years later and Tom returns to Harmony after having been MIA all that time. As the sole inheritor of Hanniger Mines he intends to sell and that doesn‘t go well with the community. He finds that Axel is now the town sheriff and is married to Sarah and they have a son. As Valentine‘s Day approaches Irene and two others are killed in gruesome fashion at a motel and the killer is dressed up in mining gear from head to toe. Axel immediately suspects a copycat and sets his sights on Tom but Tom believes Harry Warden is back.
In the early 2000’s a lot of classic 70’s and 80’s horror/slashers got a makeover. Movies like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003), “Halloween” (2007), “Friday the 13th” (2009) and a trio of Wes Craven’s signature films; “The Hills Have Eyes” (2006), “The Last House on the Left” (2009) and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010) were re-imagined for the millennium crowd with varying degrees of success. None of these films are atrocities and they’re all made with loving homages to the originals but there’s that unidentifiable something that 70’s and 80’s low-budget horror possessed that simply wasn’t attainable in these (semi) big-budget releases. A personal favorite of mine in the re-imagining department is the 2009 update of “My Bloody Valentine” (1981).
The original was (and still is) quite brutal with excellent make-up work and kill scenes and an eerie atmosphere with a great setting and a nasty villain in a cool get-up. It was slightly different from the rest of the early 80’s slashers with older and more relatable characters, a bit more fully fleshed secondary characters in authority positions and a genuine small town atmosphere in the mining town. The updated version retains the three main characters but mixes things up a little. Tom and Axel are more like sworn enemies (for reasons unknown) instead of childhood buddies who‘ve stayed that way but Sarah has basically the same function. Tom’s absence here is much longer and is directly related to Harry Warden‘s massacre on Valentine‘s Day and his return signals the beginning of a new reign of terror by a madman in miner‘s gear.
„MBV ´09“ is a fairly good reboot that retains the basic concept and main characters but goes off in some unexpected directions with good success. It‘s very brutal and violent but it‘s got some legimate suspense sequences and an agreeable mystery that‘s well played out. The cast sells it‘s characters pretty well, particularly Ackles and King who are likeable actors who deliver fine and committed performances. Smith does well also but his character is saddled with the most clichéd dialogue and unrealistic behaviour so he comes off somewhat lacking in comparison. It was a nice touch to bring in veterans Atkins and Tighe in more than glorified cameos but admittedly pretty thankless roles and the old timers pull it off well.
Director Lussier (Dracula 2000) delivers some knockout and gruesome set-pieces with ferocity and that‘s the main thing the film does really well; gory set pieces. The reboot ups the ante in terms of violence and gore and then some but it can‘t compete with the eerie atmosphere the original conjured up. Writers Farmer and Smith do concuct a solid premise and a decent spin on the Harry Warden legend so, in the end, the reboot carves out enough of it‘s own identity to divorce itself from direct comparison. The town of Harmony is bland compared to Valentine‘s Bluffs and secondary characters are entirely one-dimensional compared to the additional flair given to the supporting cast in the original. Thankfully the main storyline concerning Tom, Axel and Sarah has enough weight to sustain viewer interest throughout.
I don‘t remember „MBV ´09“ doing big business in theaters and it‘s open ending (as in the original) didn‘t warrant a sequel apparently. It‘s main gimmick in 2009 was that it played in 3-D and I remember the eye popping gore was really something to experience back then. Thankfully the film does just as well without the 3-D effects (since I haven‘t aquired a TV that supports it, I‘m grateful) and I find myself regularly revisiting the title. It‘s not an underappreciated classic but it‘s a mean spirited slasher that does more things right then wrong, has a decent cast and certainly delivers on gory set-pieces.