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Movie Review

Maybe it used to be a small town slice of Norman Rockwell, but the mining hamlet of Harmony isn't all that picturesque now.

It's rumored that years ago, a miner named Harry Warden killed five men after a tunnel collapse just so he could hog all the oxygen. He wound up in a coma, but he did survive. And when he awoke months later, he immediately went on another killing spree, butchering half the hospital and painting hearts with the blood.

How thoughtful of him to remember that it was Valentine's Day.

On the 10th anniversary of this massacre, Sheriff Axel Palmer isn't too thrilled when Tom Hanniger, who caused the mine accident in the first place, returns to Harmony. Tom once had a relationship with Axel's wife, Sarah, and the two men resume their jockeying for possession of her heart—figuratively speaking, she hopes, since human hearts placed in candy boxes start popping up around the time Hanniger does. As the mysterious murders mount, the townsfolk start talking about Harry Warden being on the prowl once again.

But this remake of a 1981 Canadian slasher film adds a high-tech twist to the original, threadbare story: 3-D. If the decapitated and mutilated corpses don't quite meet hard-core horror expectations, Harry's ax soaring from the screen is intended to pick up the slack.

On Ain't It Cool News, Mr. Beaks writes, "When you're talking 'great' slasher films, you're letting a good deal slide, but I maintain that there is an art to getting the genre's Agatha Christie-inspired formula right."

And by "right" he really means "wrong in every respect." He says so himself.

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Positive Elements

Axel protects several women in danger, sometimes risking his life to do so. Sarah is portrayed as a loving mother to her young son, Noah.

Spiritual Content

Somebody mutters something about God not needing to waste any miracles on saving Harry. Harmony is said to be a "God fearing" town.

Sexual Content

A horror.com reviewer calls the nudity in My Bloody Valentine "obligatory," as if it's just a given in such films. This gorefest shows much more than bare skin, though. Not quite a girlfriend and not quite a prostitute, Irene is seen having sex with a trucker, and no part of her naked nubility is left to the imagination. (Neither is his bare backside.) The two go through the sexual positions and movements of intercourse, moaning and thrashing as the camera ogles. Then, in a sequence that lasts minutes, not seconds, she's stalked, cornered and brutally (bloodily) killed while wearing nothing more than a look of terror. (Full-frontal shots are frequent and sometimes prolonged as she runs, hides and tries to fight.)

Actor Edi Gathegi said of filming this lengthy nude scene with co-star Betsy Rue, "It was very uncomfortable for me at the moment. They didn't let any of the crew in, except for the people who had to be there in the room when she was naked. We have one scene where I'm there with her. But I'm a gentleman! I couldn't look at her. I felt I was cheating because she was naked."

That's pretty strong sentiment coming from a guy who signed a contract to act in a 3-D slasher. And it raises a pretty serious question for horror fans: Do the rules somehow change because you're watching her on a giant screen in a dark theater instead of across the set under hot stage lights?

Axel (and therefore moviegoers) views a sex tape (Irene's) that is crime evidence. In other scenes we hear couples having boisterous sex offscreen. Axel has an affair with one of Sarah's co-workers, getting her pregnant. (She's seen getting dressed after one of their trysts.) High schoolers joke about manual stimulation.

Violent Content

A key slasher film aspiration is graphic, intentionally over-the-top violence and murder, so Valentine hacks away. And hacks away. And hacks away. Did I mention already that it's all in 3-D?

A young woman is decapitated when a shovel is driven into her mouth and through her head. A man's eye emerges from his head on the tip of a pickax that's starts it journey through his skull from the back. Another man's head is pulled into bloody pieces that seemingly fly into the audience when that same ax tears into his throat and through his mouth. Always wearing a full gas-mask-equipped miner's suit, the killer slashes, rips, tears and pummels a whole slew of hapless humans, splattering their blood against walls, floors, bystanders' faces and onto 3-D glasses. A dead nanny—her melted and gore-encrusted face graphically shown—is pulled from a dryer.

Fistfights break out repeatedly. A bizarre car accident injures a man as a fallen tree trunk plunges through the windshield. Numerous characters brandish guns—and aim or shoot them at others. One gunshot goes super-slo-mo, the bullet entering a man's torso and then exploding out of his back. The pickax slashes through all sorts of body parts, including heads and faces, a man's wrist and a woman's chest, causing blood to spew and gush from each wound. Disemboweled bodies are left naked and curled up in their death positions. Severed body parts cover floors, and we see corpses that are torn in half.

As mentioned in the "Sexual Content" section, a nude woman is stalked and murdered.

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word is spoken (actually, it's often screamed) close to 40 times. The s-word trails behind at about 15. Jesus' name is abused a half-dozen times. God's is interjected more than 20; several times it is combined with "d--n." Obscene name-calling references oral sex and female anatomy.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Several six packs of beer appear at a party. Tom takes unidentified pills—seemingly prescription. It's said that several townsmen drank themselves to death.

Other Negative Elements

Marriage is mocked by the way Axel cheats on Sarah and Sarah pines for Tom. The trucker puts his wedding band back on after having sex with Irene.

Conclusion

Eviscerated. That's the word that kept leaping to mind as I sat through My Bloody Valentine. It made me recall the few times my father butchered an animal for food in our backyard when I was a kid. But these were people being sliced and diced. And we were supposed to be watching it all just for fun? A small thrill. A 3-D theme ride?

It takes a whole lot more than it used to for movie directors to surprise horror buffs. Even the MPAA knows this: While the original movie reportedly shed nine minutes of gore before it could be released in the U.S., this much bloodier version was accepted with little to no protest.

Dehumanizing. Desensitizing. A nude woman set up as titillating bait for a savage killer. A steady stream of mindless, mesmerizing mayhem that gradually loosens people's grip on life's quite literally holy value. Those aren't things that should trigger a rating that would keep a film like this out of mall multiplexes? Not according to Lionsgate Films or the MPAA. In fact, director Patrick Lussier says the review board actually got into the film, laughing and jumping just like the paying audience that surrounded me. Squish. Splatter. Scream. Crunch. Chuckle. Rate it R. Next!

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Jensen Ackles as Tom Hanniger; Jamie King as Sarah Palmer; Kerr Smith as Axel Palmer; Kevin Tighe as Ben Foley; Edi Gathegi as Deputy Martin; Tom Atkins as Burke; Betsy Rue as Irene; Megan Boone as Megan

Director

Patrick Lussier ( Drive Angry)

Distributor

Lionsgate

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Meredith Whitmore

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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