Monday, January 26, 2009

Review: My Bloody Valentine 3D

I'm not a horror movie fan. I watched them slightly more often when I was younger than I do now, but skipped most of the biggies. In the last decade, it's taken something extraordinary to get me to see one. Something like, say, Jensen Ackles as the movie's star.

I went to see My Bloody Valentine 3D last week, and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I'm going to keep my review spoiler-free in the beginning. If you don't want to know all the details, don't read past the horizontal lines. You've been warned!

I think Jensen Ackles is a tremendous actor, so I expected him to be the best thing about this movie. He almost was, even though it didn't really test his range. Character development was minimal due to the concentrated storyline, and what we got was focused elsewhere, but it was still a treat any time he was on screen. I had a hard time not comparing him to Dean, of course. You'll be sorry to hear that most of the time he's in layers again. He does have one scene that starts with him in a tank top. One of the characters says "Put your shirt on," and the entire audience yelled, "No, don't!" There were physical differences, though. When Tom was climbing up through the woods at one point, he was tentative and shaky, and I thought, "He doesn't move at all like Dean."

I say Jensen was almost the best thing about the movie. If it had been a normal, even digital, film (Jensen in digital is pure beauty!), he would have topped the list. But the 3D was pretty amazing, and took the movie to a whole new level. Some people have said they didn't feel it was much better than the old 3D, but I did.

First, we looked much cooler than we would have with the old paper goggles:

Second, the entire movie is in 3D, not just the stuff that jumps out at you. Now, the last movie I saw in 3D was that kid movie with Sly Stallone as a bad guy (maybe Spy Kids?) and it just gave me a headache. This was like being in a diorama. Plus, my friend who says 3D doesn't work for her got the full effects. Our group was in unanimous agreement.

Speaking of groups, it's definitely more fun seeing this movie in one, so you can laugh at their reactions and they can laugh at yours.

The story held together fairly decently. There were a few moments of eye-rolling dialogue and some holes that couldn't be explained away, but far fewer of them than you'd expect in a movie whose sole purpose is to shock the audience. Most of the staples of the genre were present, but it was kind of comforting to have them there. That could be my nostalgia talking, though (what little I have).

Overall, I'd call it more horrible than scary (no nightmares here), with lots and lots of gore, and well worth seeing for either horror fans or Ackles fans.

Oh, and Tanya? It's easy to close your eyes to avoid the gore. It's well telegraphed. :) Anticipation is, after all, half the fun.

Please note I have no control over the spoilers in the comments!


The basic plot of the story (complete with "twist"! So be warned! Again!):

Ten years ago, Tom Hanniger (Ackles) forgot to bleed the lines in tunnel 5. Some miners got trapped, and most died. The police determined that Harry, one of the trapped miners, killed the others to conserve air. He lived, but went into a coma. A year later (or so I'm told, I missed that notification) he woke up from the coma and killed 23 people--people in the hospital and some kids partying at the mine.

Tom, his girlfriend Sarah, and her friends are at the party and manage to survive, but they leave Tom behind. He almost gets killed, but the sheriff and a deputy show up and kill Harry.

Ten years later, Tom, who left town immediately and never came back, returns to town around the anniversary of the massacre, planning to sell his stake in the mine since his father died. The town's not too happy about that. Sarah is now married to Axel, the town sheriff (and the guy who got her and one other girl away from the mine massacre), but clearly still carries a torch for Tom, who seeks her out repeatedly and enjoys goading Axel about her.

When the murders start happening, Tom is an immediate suspect. He was at the motel where the first two occurred, and is visible through the window on a sex tape found at the murder scene. He's also at the mine when the next one occurs, and the guy who gets killed tried to punch Tom in a bar fight the night before. But he was jammed into a cage, struggling to get out when the murder occurred.

As the movie progresses, though, most of the murders have a connection to Tom. Axel finds out he was in a mental institution for the last seven years and warns his wife off, but while being chased by the killer, she finds evidence that Axel is actually the one. It comes to a showdown between the three--in the mine, of course--and we learn it was Tom all along, kind of in a split-personality thing. They fight, the tunnel collapses, and when a rescuer locates Tom, Tom kills him and escapes, thereby making a sequel a possibility.

The Killers

Even though I was spoiled by a review that mentioned "Crazy!Jensen" and Tom taking off the mask, and even though it was pretty obvious to the discretionary viewer that the body in the miner coveralls was Jensen's (or a really, really good body double), and even though the music and camera angles and clues all pointed to Tom, they managed near the end to make me think it could be Axel. Probably, that was partly because I wanted it to be the lying, cheating jerk instead of the lost, tragic, heartbreaker.

Motivation was the biggest point of discussion for us when it was over. I thought it was funny that they kept questioning why Tom would go after, say, the housekeeper or the chippy that Axel had gotten pregnant. To me, it was as simple as...he's broken. He got attacked, and left behind, and he was already harboring guilt for the mining accident. Then he had to shoulder the deaths of two dozen people. Coming home, seeing those people from the past, triggered his psychosis.

But no one really questioned Harry's motivation. Why he killed the miners was clear, but why all the hospital people? Why the kids at the mine? Why did he suddenly turn into something he wasn't, especially after being in a coma for a year?

Speaking of which.

But What About...

Harry was in a coma for a year, but was hugely muscled and capable of ripping people in half? He didn't have a pickax in the hospital, so how did he tear through ribcages and rip out hearts?

The key scene to keep us guessing about Tom was the third modern death, in the mine. He's watching the murder from inside the cage. Very metaphorical. But later, when he's revealed, they show him putting himself in the cage and taking off the miner suit and mask. Where was that stuff when the others came in? I'm not certain if he disrobed in the cage or outside it, but either way, why wouldn't the police have found the gear and the pickax? There weren't any good places to hide them.

One of the pieces pointing to Axel is his father's old house in the woods, where he shtuped his girlfriend and where she gave him a Valentine's card and told him she was pregnant. Tom found the house, so when the words in the card appear in blood on the wall over dead Megan's head, we're to think it had to be one of the two of them, since they're the only ones who knew about the card. Later, Sarah finds a cabinet full of Valentine hearts (the kind candy comes in) and the card. Since the killer was putting his victims' hearts in candy boxes, she thinks he's her husband.

But the problem with that misdirection is that it indicates premeditation. When we get flashbacks to show how things really happened, Tom seems to be completely unaware of his "Harry" personality, and certain things trigger it to come out. He's fully convinced in the mine that the killer is a separate entity. But he's shown discovering where Harry had been buried, and recovering his old mask and pickax. So those things don't quite jive.

But they were still minor compared to some other horror movies I've seen, and the final shot of the movie, on Tom's expression shifting as Harry takes over and escapes, is chilling enough to make me forgive the little issues. Scary? Gory? Hot guy in a tank top? Eyeballs poking out of the screen on the end of the pickax? Those are enough for me.

Did you see the movie? Agree, disagree, think I'm completely nuts? Tell us what you thought, and please correct anything you think I got wrong, because there were a few places I had to close my eyes. :)


Anonymous said...

I saw it (by myself) and enjoyed it way more than I thought I would I wasn't scared - I don't know if was because I knew so much about the movie going in or because I was distracted by Jensen. But it didn't give me any nightmares either.

I too was spoiler as to who the killer really was and even then, I was screaming for it to be Axel by the end. Because please, cheating douche bag? He so deserved to be the bad guy!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

He really did! And I forgot to mention that the "I love you"s between Sarah and Axel at the end were kind of disgusting, because I'm sorry, being targeted by a homicidal maniac doesn't erase being treated badly by your spouse.

I would have seen it by myself if I had to, but I was glad I didn't have to, so I'm impressed that you did. :)

AuthorM said...

I'm still waiting for the audio snippet that creates the sentence "F- me, Megan!"


Okay, I loved it. I love horror movies anyway, and even when there are flaws, well, it was a helluva lot of fun. And Jensen in 3D, what's not to love about that?!


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I'd have done it already if I had the capability! LOL

That was something I neglected to mention, though it probably wasn't appropriate for the main post, anyway.

Jensen saying the F word is too hot to be allowed.

AuthorM said...

You do notice I restrained myself even from typing it out.

Jensen swearing IS too hot for this world. Any swear.

But the "f" swear is...toooooooo....much.

Trish Milburn said...

LOL at the audience yelling for Jensen not to put his shirt on. :)

Eyeballs poking out of the screen on the end of the pickax?

Okay, that so grosses me out. Love Jensen, don't see me seeing this movie. Or Jared's Friday the 13th either.

phouse1964 said...

How could I have forgotten Jensen swearing? There was one interview with him saying the f-word I think. I would love an interview with im just saying F*ck over and over. It would make my year!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Yeah, Trish, they SO need to do some non-horror movies for people like you and Tanya!

LOL, phouse! Me, too!

Anonymous said...

>>>Trish, they SO need to do some non-horror movies for people like you and Tanya!

Yes, please :-D

Maureen Child said...


Put me in the same boat with you and Tanya....eyeballs??


Not even for sweet Jensen....

MJFredrick said...

I was thinking maybe I'd go, but the eyeballs....uh, no.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Wow, I'm glad I mentioned the eyeball! I feel I've done you all a service.

Wait, you're not going to see Jensen in digital 3D on a 50-foot screen! Nooooooo! I've done a terrible DISservice!!!!! *sobs*

Ava Quinn said...

Nice recap, Natalie! Crazy picture, though! I closed my eyes for some of the gore too. Like the jaw removal.

I liked the Utz potato chip product placement for PA authenticity.

I'm pretty sure he took off the mining outfit inside the cage.

The tank top was a nice touch, though I was hoping the full frontal nudity mandatory for all slasher films was going to be him. *sigh*

Victoria said...

Funny picture!LOL
I loved that Tom was the bad guy. Though Axel should have been. I loved how they twisted that around.
And...the F-word. OMG! Way hot!
It was a lot of fun. The 3D was amazing and I'm so glad it worked for me!