Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009, Patrick Lussier)

I had to wait a month before seeing this on Valentine's Day with my girlie when it was only playing in 3D at one theater, then felt slow in realizing why: the Friday the 13th remake came out Friday the 13th, the day before.

MBV3D's 3D is polarized prints and lenses, which isn't even as effective as red and blue double processing but that's how 3D is done for now until James Cameron supposedly reinvents the wheel with Avatar. You're asked as a viewer to do a lot of the focusing yourself. Contrast between foreground and background staging pops out best and is underused. Once or twice the pickaxe comes through a pane of glass in the foreground and that's the best use of the technology. I'm a mark for 3D in horror, which seems to come cyclically every 30 years from the 50s to 80s and today. My anticipation for Alex Aja's 3D Piranha movie (Joe Dante's, only insofar as the use of piranha) and the novelty of flesh chomping fish swarming the screen forgives the remake albatross for the same reason I'd see the remake of an '81 slasher I'd never seen in order to enjoy a 3D slasher, probably the first one since Friday the 13th 3D.

The reuse of a pickaxe swinging miner as the killer and featured prominently in the advertising was a surprise, given the frequent disassociation from such details of PG-13 slasher remakes like Prom Night or April Fool's Day, and only hinted at the competent reverence Todd Farmer (Jason X) has for the genre tropes. Tom Atkins' presence doesn't hurt and the young adult actors in peril aren't trying to be too funny, thank god.

There is a full circle on display here from the first generation slashers like My Bloody Valentine to the snarky Scream and finally back to where the script is workman rather than self-referentially post modern. The setup is actually pure Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, killing the original villain off at the start to tease the identity of an obvious copycat all the way through. Harry is-he-or-isn't-he Warden is suitably intimidating the way non-immortal slashers between Michael Myers and Freddy had to get by.

The whodunnit aspect is a charmingly old fashioned slasher cliche (revitalized too by Scream) and eventually managed to get me beyond whocares. Unfortunately there is a twist ending which ruins everything despite their familiarity to the slasher genre because it plays a typically unfair trick of perspective shift abused by everyone since Fight Club.

Those are petty details. The point is that Patrick Lussier didn't fool around with the 3D, every usage intends to either draw you in or heighten danger - no snakes springing out of tubes or yo-yos here. He's a Wes Craven protege who's directed some of his worst productions - Dracula 2000, yikes - but he also edited the Scream series, New Nightmare and Red Eye and MacGuyver before that (!) and displays plenty of confidence in making the rhythms of action scary. He can't create a spooky mood the way even the hackiest slashers could when imitating the Italian style, but this is a 3D movie and a seat jumper and that's fine.

3D next gen b-horror, I'm for it!

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