February 2, 2009

Seen Between Fingers - The Final Chapter...?

In this regular feature, wimp and noted horror non-enthusiast Chris Kelly has reported back with his first-impressions of memorable scary movies. Having given the original My Bloody Valentine a whirl, it seemed appropriate for him to give the 3-D remake a go. What a trooper!

This will be the last installment of SEEN BETWEEN FINGERS for the time being. Chris has been a good sport, but I fear that if I don't give him time to rehabilitate and re-sensitize, he could wind up brandishing a pick-axe himself. Thanks to those of you who have expressed your enjoyment of this feature, perhaps we'll revisit it in the future.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D is, first and foremost, the least memorable film ever screened for an audience. Honestly, I would have written this review sooner, but I am continually forgetting that I actually saw the movie. It flew from my mind within minutes of leaving the theater. Despite occasionally excessive gore and intermittently interesting forays into the third dimension, it was by and large a waste of time for all involved.

Not that an effort wasn't made -- the film's opening goes out of its way to outdo its predecessor. Harry Warden, formerly just a ghost story, gets one hell of a prologue. Probably still bristling at the notion that nine gory minutes had been removed from the source material, the filmmakers pack the first nine minutes of their remake with the pick-axiest, eye-gougingest, head-shovelingest footage you have ever seen. Take that, MPAA. It was actually an interesting way to begin the story: without context or background, it was suddenly unclear who the main characters were. I had no formulaic plot devices to cling to: anyone could be the star, and anyone could be the next victim.

We then jump ten years into the future. This had potential to be a smart choice; the Valentine's Day Massacre is no longer a distant memory for our leads, but a formative trauma from their teenage years. Unfortunately, no one really signed onto this project to do any of that pesky acting, so we're treated to several open-mouthed gawks from the pouty heroines and brooding, flexy stares from the attractive-ish man-heros. We're also repeatedly told that mining is important to this town. (People have trouble articulating how, though, as no one under the age of sixty seems to be actually working in or around the mine.)

Just when all the talking and explaining and emoting are starting to wear you down, the movie remembers how to have a good time. Let me tell you, I might not recall 75 percent of what went down on that screen, but I will never unsee the three-dimensional projection of a naked, gun-toting blonde in porn heels parading her shaved vulva across a motel parking lot. Where 1981 viewers had to content themselves with a flash of bra, the new generation can use their depth perception to gauge just how fake those bouncing boobies might be. By the time the murderer has dangled an electrocuted midget from the ceiling, I was prepared to give this movie a second chance. I mean, at least we're trying something different, right?

Wrong. It's all routine from here, kids. Sure, the murders are gross. But though I had to close my eyes a couple times, the noteworthy fact is that I kept them open for most of it. Even with the benefit of three dimensions and an ever-loosening set of standards for acceptable on-screen violence, this one couldn't convince me (me!) to look away while people were beheaded and eviscerated for sport. There were also some decent attempts at plot twists, but the love triangle (square?) was kind of hokey and overdone, and in the end, do I really care who they're all sleeping with or which bland, biceped studlet did the actual killing?

I guess everyone did their best. The goal, to make the same mediocre movie with more red ooze, was more than achieved. Body parts jumped right off the screen, and that bespectacled dwarf practically chased her dog right into my lap. There was actual sex and constant, punishing death. People said words with ostensible meaning. A body was found in a dryer and a girl was tormented with coveralls, just like the last time OMG!!! But why does any of that matter if I found myself browsing a bookstore thirty minutes later, honestly unable to recall what I had done with my afternoon?*

*Full disclosure: I checked my shower for three days to see if the miner was there.

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