Jesse Hassenger Swims in the Dreck of January.
Since I started going to the movies in New York City, I’ve had a handful of ticket-scrambling situations. I remember going to buy Borat tickets online the afternoon of its opening, only to find that 11:05PM was the earliest possible showing; I remember prime Harry Potter tickets disappearing a week ahead of time; and I certainly recall the entire first weekend of Dark Knight in IMAX selling out a month ahead of time. But those were all online ticketing mishaps; I don’t recall ever physically racing around town looking for tickets for a show sooner than seven or eight hours later.
Yet I found myself doing just that on Friday in order to see the remake of My Bloody Valentine in 3-D. I figured dropping by the theater four five hours early would be sufficient, but no: by 5:30PM, the Union Square Regal had no 3-D showings available until quarter of one. I zipped up to Times Square and even with an extra 3-D screen, the situation was scarcely any better: nothing until midnight. Finally, I threw a hail Mary, and the only other theater showing it in 3-D, the 84th St. AMC-Loews, caught it. (Notorious was the big attraction there; yeah, Upper West Side!)
This probably speaks more to the relative paucity of 3-D-equipped screens in Manhattan (or Brooklyn — apparently that theater in Park Slope was the only one in my home borough) than to specific excitement over My Bloody Valentine 3-D, which only made slightly more money than The Unborn in its first three days, and with the advantage of higher 3-D ticket prices. But for a few hours, MBV3D felt like an event worthy of a stupid acronym.
The movie itself certainly plays well with a crowd; the laugh-screams come more comfortably and less incredulously than at The Unborn, a far more inventive yet strangely less accomplished bit of genre slashing. It’s nowhere near a Grindhouse level of self-aware genre tribute, but the effect is similar; in a way, My Bloody Valentine‘s clunkiness and gimmickry make it feels more authentic than The Unborn. The latter stars an up-and-comer of sorts, while a lot of the MBV cast feels well on their way to has-been territory. Kerr Smith, for example, played the gay guy on Dawson’s Creek, and as such already did a tour in teen horror hell: the actually pretty awesome Final Destination and the legendarily/sublimely terrible (at least according to my friend Megan) The Forsaken. That was all like ten years ago, and here he is, back on the slasher beat.
(At least Smith comes back to play a grown-up at least a little bit close to his actual 35 years. I caught part of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift on cable this weekend and recognized Zachery Ty Bryan, who played one of the older sons on Home Improvement for pretty much all of the 90s. Made sense, as he did age from ten-ish to twenty-ish during that decade. But then the poor bastard just kept playing teenagers for the next ten years: I’d catch him on Boston Public one year and think, “wow, really, that guy, still?” and then a year later I’d see him on late-period Buffy, as one of Dawn’s classmates no less, and then even more years later and he’s playing peer to Veronica Mars or playing the snotty rich kid in Tokyo Drift. I know actors dance around their actual ages all the time, but when I see the same dude playing a seventeen-year-old for a decade, I start to just assume he’s the same super-duper-senior who’s been failing Remedial English for half of his life. Now that’s what I call horror.)
Anyway. My Bloody Valentine 3-D is pretty fun if you like cheesy 3-D effects and cheesier dialogue. Like a lot of January horror pictures, it didn’t screen for critics. Unlike even more January horror pictures, it actually got pretty good reviews. Granted, the 70% score on the Tomatometer includes some web critics specializing in horror fare, third-stringers who drew the short straw to file a post-release review, and a whole lot of people with appropriately low expectations. As with Snakes on a Plane, the studio seems to have miscalculated the amount of fun critics would allow themselves to have with a cheesy genre programmer. Then again, as with Snakes, a lot of that fun probably grew from critics being forced to see the movie with a real crowd, so maybe it was actually just a savvy marketing move.
Either way, it paid off; this movie is totally winning the January horror sweepstakes. So far. Two down, two to go! Next up: bootleg Kate Beckinsale!