A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this ultra-gory slasher/horror remake is full of foulmouthed, unsavory characters, many of whom end up getting speared by pickaxe blades, shot, dismembered, and/or eviscerated. Human hearts are torn out and put inside chocolate boxes. There's extensive nudity in a sex scene that eventually becomes a nude chase-murder scene. Teenagers drink with abandon, police officers are unethical, husbands are unfaithful, and boyfriends are menacing. Strong language flows freely, from "damn" to "f--k" and everything in between.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In a small, dreary mining town called Harmony, miner Harry Warden -- who was trapped in a Valentine's Day cave-in -- earns notoriety by pick-axing to death all the miners stuck with him (he wanted all the air for himself). Though found comatose, Harry wakes up to claim additional victims (hospital personnel and partying teens) before being shot and chased into the depths of the mine. Ten years later, on the anniversary of the slaughter, Tom Hannigan (Jensen Ackles) -- who barely escaped Harry the first time -- returns to town to take ownership of his family's mine. An old high-school love triangle rekindles between Tom, volatile young sheriff Axel (Kerr Smith), and Axel's betrayed wife (Jaime King). Coincidentally, a shambling figure in a gas mask and mining uniform recommences pick-axing townspeople and ripping out their hearts to make grotesque Valentines. Is Harry still alive -- or is it some other masked maniac?
Is it any good?
It may or may not help that this shocker treats the whole plot seriously, not parodying the trashy cliches of such shockers the way the popular Scream movies do. MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D remakes a 1981 Canadian "splatter" film of the same name -- which itself was one of many copies of the original Halloween and Friday the 13th that got cranked out when studios discovered young ticket buyers with an insatiable appetite for cheaply produced, graphically explicit gore-sex-murder flicks with a strong teenage vibe. If you were very lucky, there might be a "whodunit" aspect and OK acting to make it more than just sadistic dare-you-to-look locker-room voyeurism.
That's the case with the 2009 MBV, which not only has a climactic twist but also well-done 3-D special effects (a "flat" 2D version was also released). Some visual gimmickry -- like an eyeball popping out -- exploits the "sicko" possibilities of the effects; others are spookier and more subtle, like the slow sweep of a rifle barrel or the lighthouse-like beacon of the killer's flashlight helmet. Only in the last 15 minutes or so are so many items poked and thrown in your face that it becomes deadening overkill.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of this type of horror movie. Why do audiences enjoy watching people be hideously killed? How does seeing this type of violence affect viewers?
How does this kind of horror film compare to scares in older movies of the 1950s, '40s, and '30s, when audiences got their thrills from the tamer Dracula, Wolf Man, or Black Lagoon creature?
Parents, ask your teens about their favorite horror movies or slasher villains. Why do they like them? What sets one apart from the other?
- In theaters: January 16, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: May 19, 2009
- Cast: Jaime King, Jensen Ackles, Kerr Smith
- Director: Patrick Lussier
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: graphic brutal horror violence and grisly images throughout, some strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language
For kids who love horror
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.