If there’s one thing I can honestly say I love, it’s a good gimmick movie. Sometimes I feel like I should have been born in the 1950’s, so I could have been there for the heyday of 3-D movies and the exploitative goodness of Kroger Babb’s road shows and William Castle’s Tingler. One of my favorite movie experiences was going to see a 3-D revival of The Creature From The Black Lagoon with my father at the dollar theater, complete with the old-style red and blue 3-D glasses. When My Bloody Valentine‘s trailers hit the theaters, I was wholly unimpressed. Until they said it was in 3-D.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one drawn in by the gimmick, because the showing I went to Saturday night was almost completely sold out. The show after mine was completely sold out. When you get the chance, go see this movie in theaters with as big of a crowd as you can muster. Go on Friday night, or Saturday night, in prime time. You won’t be sorry.
Ten years ago, the lone survivor of a horrible cave-in, Harry Warden, awoke from his coma went on a killing spree that devastated the tiny mining town of Harmony. There were over 20 people killed in one night, thanks in no small part to the teenage beer party taking place at abandoned mine #5, the site of Harry’s cave-in experience. Among the few that survive are Tom (Jensen Ackles), Sarah (Jaime King), Axel (Kerr Smith), and Irene (Betsy Rue).
Ten years later, time moves on. Tom fell off the face of the earth after the murder spree. Sarah and Axel got married, and Axel is the sheriff. Irene is still Irene. The one thing tying Tom to Harmony is Hanniger Mines. Tom owns it (after the death of his father), the massacre happened there, and as it turns out, it’s the only thing keeping Harmony afloat. Guess who else comes back to Harmony after disappearing ten years ago? That’s right, Harry Warden’s back and he’s looking to get his revenge on the survivors of his previous massacre.
The acting in this film is nothing to write home about. Things are pretty one dimensional. For the most part, nobody falls onto their face, but there’s nothing really stand-out required. Some running and screaming, some jealous husbandry, and some conflicted-looking Jensen Ackles. The script isn’t anything spectacular, either, but it manages to entertain with its list of clichés and a pretty decent mystery story when people aren’t being chopped up. There are some funny moments, both intentionally and unintentionally, though it feels as though the screenwriters, Zane Smith and Todd Farmer, realize that they’re being unintentionally funny and don’t shy away from it. Considering Todd Farmer wrote Jason X, I’d imagine he knew what he was doing when he piled on the fromage in this script.
Director Patrick Lussier has a really bad track record. Dracula 2000 was one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. I saw it for free and still wanted my money back. However, in this film, he keeps things moving so quick you almost don’t notice the contrived plot in the third act. He also seems to have thought up a ton of tricks to get the most out of the special effects in this film. His work as an editor and visual consultant seems to have helped him sharpen his directorial knife, and he avoids most of the flaws of modern horror movies in the editing bay as well. It’s a sharp movie that lacks a lot of the mediocre music video touches and that isn’t afraid to linger when appropriate.
One of the things I liked most about this movie was the fact that it was a legitimate horror film. They did not shy away from any number of blood and gore shots. Indeed, the filmmakers wisely chose to revel in the gore and blood, with a lot of seriously amusing (yet gristly) shots. There’s no shortage of blood and gore in this film, and it’s better for it. A weaker PG-13 (12-A to you wonderful Brits) just wouldn’t have had the amusing impact that this movie packed.
Another great thing about this movie was the fact that they bought wholeheartedly into the 3-D gimmick. Bullets come flying at the viewer. Pick axes come flying towards the viewer. Breasts come flying towards the viewer. Anything they can use to make the 3-D effects sell is used in this movie. None of the old tricks get neglected, and even some new tricks get invented as director Patrick Lussier flogs this film’s champion gimmick for all it’s worth. I’m a big fan of this new Real 3-D technology that they used to make this film, and the new cooler-looking 3-D shades.
This is a remake of an 80’s film. The 80s was the last time in which 3-D movies were big at the box office in the horror genre. It goes without saying that this is a very 80s sort of film. It would fit right in with Sleepaway Camp or any of the Friday the 13th films. Cheesy at times, not the best acting-wise, but much more entertaining than it had any right to be thanks to a cheerful embrace of the three Bs of 80s horror: boobs, blood, and brutality.