Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cinema 2009: 'Bloody' flick is schlock and sick

If you have neglected 3D movies in recent years, you may be interested to know that director Patrick Lussier and the filmmakers behind 2009's R-rated "My Bloody Valentine 3D" have learned to incorporate, shall we say, "eye-popping" three-dimensional effects into nearly every scene from opening to closing credits, with one exception, notable for its typical American sensibility, if it even makes sense to use the word "sensibility" in this context.

In "Valentine," our protagonists are chased by yet another murderous madman, this one concealing his identity behind a coal miner's oxygen mask and coveralls, and wielding a miner's pick ax with utter ruthlessness and three-dimensional bloodlust.

Don't worry so much about trying to solve the mystery of the killer behind the mask, although the cynical screenwriters do drop a clue or two amid the crimson carnage. Just sit back as hapless extras and actors in secondary roles are brutally dispatched via that steel tool in every way imaginable and a couple more ways that probably would have been hard to imagine without the help of 3D. You might think ax murdering would grow repetitious, I assure you it does not.

There could be many morals to this tale.
Run, don't hide, when being pursued by a pick-ax wielding psycho in a miner's oxygen mask.
Don't show up to an ax-fight with only a crow bar.
Don't adhere so strictly to gun safety when you are home alone and expecting a killer to drop by. In other words, keep that shotgun loaded!
If you are a cop, call for back up.

Most members of the cast, which combines veteran character actors with young-looking 30-somethings — rising stars no doubt — appear too tired or too cool to take their jobs seriously.

Notable exceptions are Jaime King, who plays the sheriff's wife, and Megan Boone, who plays his young lover. Both women deliver the goods during the straight scenes, then prove they can scream and run at the same time during the fun-filled terror scenes, especially when the killer stalks the ladies in a grocery store. Their mop-wielding moxie rouses the audience, by now tired of the miner's murder spree. Suspense builds as the babes are trapped in a back room. Will they unlock a window in time to escape? It is a tried but true formula.

There is not much comic relief in "Bloody Valentine 3D," except for quips by laconic lawmen surveying crime scenes that would otherwise hush the most hardcore homicide detective.

Lussier also throws in extended female nudity, all of it tamely two-dimensional.

Although the 3D effects are mostly furious fun with flying pick axes, ample spritzes of blood and meteoric body fragments seemingly crashing into the seats around you, the level of useless torment at times outweighs the terror and reduces the film to base bloodletting. The inclusion of such scenes in the genre is not new. The 2005 film "Hostel" similarly lost its way — and was rewarded at the box office.

While the pace does improve as the movie builds toward resolution, those scenes of execution-style murder numb the normal psyche, no matter how side-splittingly funny 3D splatter may seem. Granted, the audience for such a movie goes in expecting catsup-stained corpses and a body count that competes with a major Mexican metropolis. But when filmmakers toss in the mutilation of corpses and what amounts to the torture of the helpless, the horror shlock turns senselessly sick.

The film's ending, on the other hand, when the secret identity of the maniac is revealed, is rewarding. Who else could it be but the sole actor who camped up his performance throughout the entire film.

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