I just don't know about the 3-D remake of My Bloody Valentine. It is extremely trashy, and it knows it - which is good. It is one of the only slasher movies in well over a decade that isn't mired in self-parody - which is also good. It is dedicated to the idea that over-the-top gore should be the stuff of fun, without sickening the audience in the manner of a torture film - which is best. And yet it is not very good.

Well, duh, of course it's not. It's a slasher movie, and once you've taken the names John Carpenter and Wes Craven out of the equation, the aesthetic pinnacle of the slasher subgenre is still pretty far down on the absolute scale of cinematic quality. And part of me wants to credit My Bloody Valentine for being a pretty good slasher-qua-slashers, although maybe after years of Saw clones and sequels, I'm just starved for an R-rated horror flick that isn't punishingly nihilistic. Half the fun of an '80s slasher movie is bathing in the cheesiness of the whole thing, after all, and however starved for value, content, or mere filmmaking talent the horror genre has been recently, only a few scattered examples can genuinely lay claim to honest cheesiness.

At any rate, My Bloody Valentine gets one thing, indeed the most important thing, completely right: tremendously good gore scenes. And not just good, good in three dimensions! For a young student of the genre who never got the chance to see Friday the 13th, Part 3 in all its 3-D glory back in 1982, My Bloody Valentine is a godsend. No longer do we have to wonder what it must have looked like to see edged weapons and body parts flying towards the screen - now we can enjoy the tawdry spectacle in gloriously sharp Real D. Insofar as that's the draw - and let's be perfectly honest, that is the draw, and nothing else - the film is a masterpiece: director Patrick Lussier knows exactly what we want, and that is why, within the first five minutes of the film, a young man gets a pick to the back of the head that ends up popping his eye towards the camera. Is this honorable filmmaking? No. It is, though, honest.

It's very easy to get wrapped up in the cheap, kitschy thrill of seeing viscera jump off the screen and into your lap. Nor is it my desire to belittle the validity of this experience: certainly, I had as much fun as anybody else in the theater, and that was a room filled delighted laughter not to be heard outside a child's birthday party. It is good sometimes to respond to a movie purely as an experience, and if the new 3-D cinema is going to have a future, I remain convinced that at least in the short term, it will be on those terms. You do not engage with a film like this; you are amazed by it. In this we are like those first audiences watching the Lumière brothers' actualités.

But if the imagination and enthusiasm behind the gore effects in My Bloody Valentine 3-D set it in the top tier of slasher movies, the rest of the film is no better than any of them. And there's much more "rest of the film". Revamping the story of a 1981 Canadian slasher that wasn't that distinguished to begin with, My Bloody Valentine sputters to life in an unnecessarily confusing opening sequence that uses newspaper clippings and TV footage to exposit the story of Harry Warden (Rich Walters), a miner in Harmony, Pennsylvania who was the sole survivor of a Valentine's Day mine collapse, taking the expediency of slaughtering the men trapped with him to conserve oxygen (In the original, that wasn't the only thing he did; food gets scarce in a mine, you know. Why this detail wasn't preserved in the remake is beyond my comprehension). One year later to the day, Warden wakes up from a coma, and after murdering a large number of nurses - it's hard to square the number of bodies we see with the figure tossed about later - stomps back off to Tunnel No. 5, where he was once interred, and which is now the setting for a Valentine's Day party that includes just about every young person in Harmony. After a large number of teens are messily dealt with, the cops arrive and Warden gets buried alive again.

The needless, confusing part is that the story hops forward another ten years, to see four of the survivors of that bloody night dealing with their lives: Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith) is the new sheriff, married to Sarah (Jaime King); Axel's old girlfriend Irene (Betsy Rue) is the town slut - I'm sorry, but that's all the film gives us to go on - and Sarah's old boyfriend, Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles), has just come back to town to sell the old Hanniger Mine that employs nearly everyone in Harmony. At just the same time, a figure dressed all in miner's gear has started to kill people with a pickaxe. Is it Harry Warden, back from the dead? Or a local, trying to throw a scare into Tom to keep him from selling? Or does it have something to do with Tom and Axel's old rivalry over Sarah? Hint: by the time it occurs, you will have figured it out, although at least the new screenwriters, Todd Farmer (of Jason X infamy!) and Zane Smith, try to make things a bit unpredictable by leaving the door open for the ending from the old film while ultimately going with its opposite.

My complaint isn't that the ending is predictable, really, but that everything is predictable. Or contrived. Like the beginning: the first film all takes place in one year, ten years after Warden's rampage. Is there any good reason why there has to be a fake-out first act in the new film, requiring three separate Warden rampages in 11 years? None that I can imagine, unless it's to add some "drama" to the main characters' lives. Which is its own failure: all of the main characters are in their late 20s, maybe even early 30s, and that's fantastic. But they still act like addle-headed, horny teenagers. The chief appeal of making a horror film with grown-up protagonists is to give the characters a different perspective and different fears (recall The Descent, where the most terrifying thing was the loss of a child), but other than some red herrings in the plot and a scene where Sarah's son is unconvincingly threatened, everything about My Bloody Valentine could just as easily have played out in high school.

I do not mention the plot holes; nor the horribly slack direction whenever gore or flashy 3-D is not present (there's a grocery store chase scene that is shamefully poorly executed). My Bloody Valentine has dynamite effects, but that is the one and only thing it has; everything else is slasher boilerplate, and not even very good - we're talking, like, mid-series Friday the 13th good. The closest I can come to a recommendation is this: if you're going to see it, see it right now in theaters, because without the saving grace of 3-D, there's absolutely nothing whatever worth bothering with here.