The first fifteen minutes of the movie are a bit of a mess. The decision to cover the original Valentine’s Day massacre in its entirety as an opening act ended up making everything too disjointed. It just works poorly due to the highly compressed structure where they try to, amongst other things, cover the entire mining accident back story by quick info dump via a flashy newspaper clippings show (thus paling in comparison to the original movie, where the managed to depict Harry’s origin in much disturbing light), introduce all the major characters when they were still teens, as well ad do a very awkward and erratic killing spree sequence before it just skips a decade in the time line. But after that the remake does actually prove to be much more enjoyable than the original. You have much more compelling story, fleshed out characters (well, as much as you can expect from a horror movie), better cinematography and way better executed overall slasher vibe. They even manage to make the killer not appear too goofy this time around, and gave him some much needed menace to his presence on screen. He felt like a terrifying entity this time and that went a long way to making this so enjoyable.
The gore is pretty excellent all around, no fear of censorship ruining anything this time, and there’s surprising variety to the deaths despite the main weapon of choice being a mining pickax. It was little repetitive to see the axe get struck into heads in disturbing ways again and again but it didn’t overstay its welcome. There’s a better sense of urgency this time, so even the body count felt much higher. The killing spree in the opening act even helped you to ignore the fact that apart from one case, all the murders taking place in current day happened inside the town instead of the mine itself. Thankfully they do still get in the mine shaft in the climax in order to stay marginally faithful to the original in its ending.
I can’t even say that much bad about the 3D gimmick. Just about every obvious shot that was done to capitalize on the 3D aren’t as off putting as they usually tend to be in these movies. Well, the scene where the killer rips off the guy’s jaw with his axe was kinda shoddily done, but only the part where the blood and jaw fly towards the center of the screen. There are several references to the original movie, and to most part they work very well. It was only the corpse in the dryer bit that felt kinda forced. In the original movie it made sense as the murder did happen in a laundromat and hiding the corpse added some nice dramatic tension when an unexpecting visitor discovered it, but here it seems to happen for no good reason. It was just there as a reference.
I’m torn on the ending twist. On one hand it is very clever and logical, but the multiple red herrings kinda had lost their momentum by that point and miss direction that is vital for the twist to work does kinda annoy me even in hindsight because it feels like a cheat. Other than that it was fine.