Valentine Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 2001

Everybody run, Marley Shelton's got a gun!

You would be hard-pressed to find a single day of the year in which you wouldn't have to worry about running into a knife-wielding mad slasher. In addition to summer being made off-limits by the likes of "Friday the 13th" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer", Halloween has been usurped by Michael Myers of the "Halloween" horror franchise, April Fool's Day was bloodied in 1986's appropriately-titled "April Fool's Day", and even the holiest of holy days, Christmas, is no guarantee of emerging unscathed, as illustrated by cult Canadian classic "Black Christmas", "Jack Frost" (no, the other one), and "Satan Claws". Now, it seems the day devoted to expressing feelings of love and affection is the latest to be defiled by the rosy stain of the slasher genre with the release of "Valentine". Directed by Jamie Blanks, who found moderate success in the post-"Scream" era with the mildly interesting "Urban Legend", "Valentine" is the latest nail in the coffin of the Nineties' teen horror revival.

The movie's prologue sets up the premise-- a geeky sixth grader named Jeremy Melton is publicly humiliated by a group of girls at a Valentine's Day dance during the Eighties, which includes being soaked in punch, à la "Carrie". Thirteen years later, Jeremy Melton is all grown up and still harbors rage against the girls who humiliated him, so what does he do? He sends the objects of his resentment twisted valentine cards, dons a cherubic face mask, and then does the slow but purposeful Michael Myers walk as he hunts them down in dark places, one at a time.

David Boreanaz

Helping Jeremy in his quest is the fact that all his victims, who have grown up into beautiful women, have remained friends after all these years, go to the same college, and have a predilection for escaping danger by trapping themselves in a room with only one exit. Kate (Marley Shelton, seen recently in "Sugar & Spice") is the sweet one (and aficionados of the genre will know that it automatically makes her a survivor), Paige (Denise Richards of "The World is not Enough") is the trampy vamp, Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw, stepdaughter of Steven Spielberg) is the weight-obsessed rich girl, Lily (Jessica Cauffiel of "Road Trip") is the stupid one, while Shelly (Katherine Heigl of "Bride of Chucky") is the med student.

Denise Richards

One-by-one, these lovely ladies fall victim to Jeremy's blade, as they desperately try to figure out who the killer is. Since its been thirteen years since anyone has seen Jeremy, and he could have changed his appearance in that time, he could be anyone. Is it Kate's hunky boyfriend Adam (David Boreanaz of TV's "Angel"), who has been wrestling with a drinking problem? Or could it be Dorothy's new beau Campbell (Daniel Cosgrove of "The Object of My Affection"), an oily entrepreneur looking for investors for his dot-com venture? Or how about Lily's multimedia artist boyfriend Max (Johnny Whitworth of "Can't Hardly Wait"), or Kate's creepy superintendent, Gary (Claude Duhamel), who speaks in rhymes? Or maybe it's the police detective assigned to the case, Detective Vaughn (Fulvio Cecere of "Double Jeopardy").

Jessica Cauffiel

Other than the question of who the killer is, there really isn't very much suspense to be found in "Valentine". Like every other 'slasher movie' made before this one, "Valentine" is an endless parade of young women alone in the dark who are led to their deaths by strange noises, aided by their penchant for doing stupid things, such as walking backwards into the arms of the killer. And with the protagonists so thinly-sketched out, there really isn't anyone worth rooting for, except maybe the killer (which is probably the whole point), who demonstrates the usual complement of 'magical slasher skills', such as the ability to slip into a room unnoticed, a talent for quickly cleaning up evidence of his handiwork, the ability to make noises that will attract his victims, and an aptitude for quickly changing in and out of his 'slasher clothes'.

Jessica Capshaw

Performances, which are another Achilles' heel of the genre, are expectedly weak in "Valentine". Badly miscast is top-billed David Boreanaz, who looks about ten years older than the age of the character he's supposed to play. Marley Shelton, who plays the closest thing to a sympathetic character in this film, is even blander than her recent turn as cheerleader-gone-bad in "Sugar & Spice". Meanwhile, the comely trio of Denise Richards, Katherine Heigl, and Jessica Cauffiel, who have hundreds, if not thousands, of web sites devoted to them, are certainly not on board for their woefully-absent thesping skills.

Despite its somewhat intriguing premise, those expecting a clever variation on the teen horror film will find that "Valentine" suffers from all the same conventions and clichés that were mocked by "Scream" in the first place. With its cardboard characters, bad acting, improbable plot mechanics, and lifeless attempts at creating suspense, it's difficult to have a lot of love for this "Valentine".

Images courtesy of Warner Brothers. All rights reserved.

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