Editor-turned-director Patrick Lussier ("White Noise 2") treats the multi-writer script as an afterthought and jumps straight into the mayhem as he recreates the mining disaster that gave us the miner-mass murderer Harry Warden "10 years before." A brisk opening shows us the mine owner's son Tom (Jensen Ackles), whose blunder caused a cave-in; the single comatose miner rescued six days later; and the awful realization that his fellow victims didn't die of asphyxiation but were killed by a guy who didn't want them using up his oxygen, a guy who awakens from his coma and wipes out the hospital for good measure, then butchers teenagers who pay tribute to their fallen townfolk by going underground for some serious partying.
The jerk-jock Axel (Kerr Smith) has become sheriff. He has married the fetching Sarah (Jaime King), Tom's ex, and is cheating on her with Sarah's cashier at the family supermarket. (Megan, played by Megan Boone, reminds us that things other than pickaxes leap off the screen in 3D films.) Tom returns to town to sell his daddy's mine, earning the ire of the locals (Kevin Tighe, of the mining-labor strife classic "Matewan" among them). No sooner does Tom show up than the dead Harry Warden--or an impersonator--starts pickaxing people, ripping their hearts out and sending them in heart-shaped boxes meant for Valentine's Day candy.
The plot staggers from absurd to ridiculous, but Lussier gives us a few good gotchas. A chase through the supermarket is top-drawer tense, and a few of the fights (most of the time people just run) have nerve.
Lussier's chief contribution to the "Bloody" legacy is in the sex. The original wasn't exactly chaste, with its opening image of a pickax plunging through a topless teen's heart-shaped breast tattoo. Here, the cheap thrill is provided by a very naked, funny and plucky survivor of the original teens-in-mine massacre, Irene. Character actress Betsy Rue gives her all, and shows her all, in a cheap hotel showdown that begins with unbridled sex. (She stares at the mirror on the ceiling, mid-act, and gloats, "God, I look hot!") Then the guy with the mining gear shows up and spoils her R-rated fun.
We don't have enough time with any character to wish them well in the face of certain death. We don't have more than a few minutes' doubt who the killer is, as likely "copycats" are pickaxed-off one by one.
Running time: 1:40. Opened Friday. MPAA rating: R (for graphic brutal horror violence and grisly images throughout, some strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language).