Happy Valentine’s Day, horror lovers! It’s everyone’s favorite time of year, where we all exchange sentimental poems and candy boxes filled with actual human hearts. That’s right—there is no better way to celebrate February 14th than to sit down with a slasher classic. Ten years ago, the remake of the 1981 Canadian horror film My Bloody Valentine premiered in theaters, ushering in a moment of both slasher goodness and 3D madness that would be a bright spot for gorehounds everywhere.
Leading up to this film’s release, horror had seen a dearth of slasher films. Though the prior year was certainly not a bad year for the genre (with releases such as Let the Right One In, Cloverfield, The Strangers, Pontypool, and Martyrs), slashers weren’t exactly all the rage. The Saw franchise was at the front and center of horror offerings for the time period and though definitely gory, it didn’t quite have the same feel of the classic slasher film.
What the horror scene needed was a modern take on a classic horror property. One that would properly celebrate a venerated holiday by decimating it in gallons of blood and more than a few severed body parts.
Enter Patrick Lussier, Todd Farmer, and Zane Smith. Reworking the original My Bloody Valentine script by John Beaird, they kept the concept of a crazed miner running amok and killing slews of people on Valentine’s Day, but updated the story to be a bit more modern and carry more of a mystery at its core. As the film opens, the small town of Harmony suffers a tragic mining accident accident which leads to the deaths of several people at the hands of local man gone crazy, Harry Warden. Though Warden is apprehended, he spends a year in a coma, before awakening on Valentine’s Day to finish the job. Ten years later, the survivors of that horrific night are ready to move on. They work to pick up the pieces and try to continue moving forward with their lives. Somebody else (naturally) has other plans, as a masked killer has begun stalking the shadows, dressed in mining gear and killing people off with a pickaxe.
The story is a lot of fun, mixing moments of humor with plenty of blood. It’s not afraid to poke a little fun at the genre and gives audiences what we all showed up to see: the gore. The film always takes itself seriously, but isn’t afraid to pepper in little moments to remind us that we are all here to have a good time. It’s almost as though Lussier is winking at us through the screen and giving us exactly what we paid for, all amplified by the miracle of 3D technology.
The movie was really on the forefront of the modern wave of 3D releases, and was, in fact, the first R-rated film to be released using RealD technology. While the trend was seemingly in overdrive a few years later and has (thankfully) died down, My Bloody Valentine illustrated just how fun the medium can be. The team uses it as a lively addition to their story, rather than just an excuse to up the ticket price. Lussier brings in some very effective depth of field moments and never neglects the “flying off the screen” gags. Among the more memorable moments that tended to leave audiences cheering, we had a pickaxe colliding with the head of a drunken party goer, just to see his eyeball pop out of his socket on the tip of the blade, Kevin Tighe as a local businessman holding a rifle and slowly panning it across the screen and over the audiences heads before cackling maliciously, and more than one occasion of flying weaponry headed straight for the camera. Lussier knows that the 3D gags are a gimmick and he is not afraid to lean into them and allow them to fully be a part of the film.
Its sense of fun is what makes My Bloody Valentine so effective and memorable. Over the past decade, we have seen tons of horror remakes—some are effective and lend an originality to the story, and others are quickly forgotten. Lussier, Farmer, and Smith inject enough modern sensibilities into the story to not play it 100% straight and give the audience room to sit back and enjoy themselves. It’s a worthy successor to the original classic, and offers a fun viewing opportunity while everyone else is out watching the latest rom-com this Valentine’s Day. So, sit back, snuggle up with your someone special, and watch out for Harry Warden!