Contains spoilers for My Bloody Valentine
There are a lot of great and interesting movies doing the rounds at the moment: Revolutionary Road, The Wrestler, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, Frost/Nixon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bride Wars (just kidding).
With all these in mind, for some reason I ended up going to see My Bloody Valentine (in 3D no less – not that you’d know it. Most 2D films offer more 3D thrills than My Bloody Valentine).
As is usual with films like this, it’s not really worth launching upon a lengthy critique of its narrative. My Bloody Valentine (MBV) is essentially a B-movie – I certainly didn’t hand over my hard-earned cash and expect something penned by David Hare or Simon Beaufoy. However, what I did expect was a load of schlocky, campy, nonsensical fun. And for a moment, MBV threatened to deliver...
There’s one sequence in the movie that is almost worth the price of admission itself: without going into mind-numbing detail, it involves a motel-managing dwarf, a butt naked Betsy Rue, a nasty trucker and a pickaxe in the head. The rest of the movie doesn’t even come close to what the critic Anthony Scott of the New York Times describes as the ‘zesty crudity’ of the B-movie:
...the cheesy, campy, guilty pleasures that used to bubble up with some regularity out of the B-picture ooze of cut-rate genre entertainment... now dominate the A-list, commanding the largest budgets and the most attention from the market-research and quality-control departments of the companies that manufacture them... For the most part, the schlock of the past has evolved into star-driven, heavily publicized, expensive mediocrities...
Even when filmmakers take on the subject of the B-movie, the results can be patchy: look at Death Proof, possibly the most crashingly dull B-movie ever made (the traditional B-movie certainly never contained acres of boringly pointless dialogue). Planet Terror is much more like it – supremely daft, the film even dispenses with core parts of its narrative by pretending that whole reels of the film have gone missing, which means it can jump straight into the action without titting about with hectares of talky exposition (something that Death Proof is stacked to the back teeth with).
When a B-movie is done well – Frank Darabont’s The Mist, for example, or even Kubrick’s The Shining – it can even transcend the usual A-list dramatic fare (Revolutionary Road anyone? The Reader?). I love a good B-movie – the problem with MBV was that it was only half a good B-movie – when the only thing that’s keeping you awake is the sight of Tom Atkins’s jaw flying past your shoulder, you know you’re in trouble.
* MDP = Mostly Dog Poo.