"Remember that kid everyone ignored on Valentine's Day? - He remembers you. [ ..VALENTINE.. ] Love hurts."
directed by: Jamie Blanks
starring: David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton, Jessica Capshaw, Jessica Cauffiel, Katherine Heigl, Fulvio Cecere, Daniel Cosgrove, Johnny Whitworth
"Roses are red... violets are blue... they'll need dental records to identify you!"
- a clever, witty and deadly valentine sent to one of the victims!
(review by Joseph Henson)
Jamie Blanks' new teen-slasher, VALENTINE, is a dull and tired foray into teenie-kill territory... the formula was done much better in the 1981 slasher MY BLOODY VALENTINE, and even in (not wanting to get lynched for this) HOSPITAL MASSACRE (aka BE MY VALENTINE... OR ELSE). At least that one had Barbi Benton cheesing up the screen... hell, even sexpot Denise Richards manages to escape doing a nude scene here... what a gyp...
I wanted to like the movie... really I did. The ads and trailers all looked promising and the killer's guise, that creepy and disturbing Cherub mask and mechanic clothing, looked like a new Michael Myers, complete with the slow stalking essence of that famous movie murderer. You'd think with the promise that Denise Richards would later be boiled alive in a hot tub, the makers could not go wrong... but go wrong they do, into very tired cliches, such as an over abundance of false scares, red herrings and a convoluted and utterly stupid twist ending. More as I go along... but first, the plot crunch...
A geeky kid in grade school, Jeremy Melton, is harrassing the female students at a Valentine's Day dance in the sixth grade. Naturally, being buck-toothed and wearing thick glasses, he is snubbed by everyone with snide and nasty remarks. One girl even goes so far as to blaming him for attacking her. Naturally, he's drug out onto the dance floor, stripped of his clothes, dipped in raspberry punch and beaten to a bloody pulp by a bunch of hooligans, a circle of girlfriends staring on with laughter. Thirteen years pass, and his memory is just that to the now rich and successful group of girls... a memory. When Valentine's Day is sneaking up, one of their own is found murdered in her home/mortuary, and soon after, each remaining girl begins recieving morbid valentines from someone who signs their packages 'JM'. Jeremy Melton? Everyone seems to think so, but it seems he was locked away in an insane asylum many moons ago for torching his parent's house, so if it's not him, then who is it? A bulldog detective seems to think it was someone who was present at the mortuary the time of the first girl's murder, while the rest of the girls are pointing fingers at an arrogant art dealer, a handsome but uptight software mogul and a drunken David Boreanaz from TV's ANGEL. So who exactly is behind the Cherub mask skulking around every corner? I won't spoil it, but yes, it's none too hard to figure out, especially if you're a seasoned reader of HYSTERIA!
While VALENTINE drags along at an unbelievably slow pace with characters we care nothing about, it does manage to throw in a few little things to keep your interest (barely I assure you), such as the slow moving killer being an almost throwback to Michael Myers, whose nose bleeds after every murder (nice touch!), a few brutal death sequences (one of which involves someone's throat being forced upon a broken pane of glass in gory fashion) and the musical score is pretty exciting in places, adding a slightly jolting touch to the chase sequences. The film's opening murder is all but original but it still manages to be slightly tense in places wih the killer stabbing through various body bags trying to find the girl he believes is hiding in one of them. But after all this, we're only left with tired (and I'm emphasizing tired here) false scares and badly underwritten characters, most of whose names we don't even know. To top all of that off, VALENTINE plays everything completely straight when laughs and perhaps even some pokes at slasher flims might have been more appropriate. Oh yeah, the touch of recieving deadly valentines was done with much more style and panache in the 1981 teen pruner MY BLOODY VALENTINE (as I said before... and take note!) and here it's pretty uneventful (excluding one detailed card with a picture of a madman slicing a young girl's throat). Most of the characters do things one should not do in these types of movies wander off alone into dark basements, long corridoors, etc, and the killer manages to be in several different places at once, despite being Michael Myers-esque and slow... and there weren't even two killers... how do we explain that? The film trobbles along with an attempt at getting to know it's cast but the majority of them are so stuck up and self absorbed we don't care to hear them talk about anything at all and it's a safe bet to say you'll be looking at your wrist watch whilst waiting for them to get picked off.
The film also becomes too convoluted for it's own good, especially involving the motive and identity of the murderer. Like the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis slasher TERROR TRAIN, the person doing the killing is exactly who we think it is but it's revealed with a twist in the end, but for this film not one for the better. It is done without any suspense or imagination and frankly how they pulled it off, it could have been anyone doing the nasty deeds behind that Cherub mask. The final chase sequences becomes so tiresome we become lost in a sea of sighing, and then they take that drab and uneventful twist ending and force it on us, expecting us to buy it. I sure didn't. Me thinks Jamie Blanks (who also directed the very uninspiring URBAN LEGEND) needs to hang up the towel on slasher flicks. You ain't impressing me, buddy...
If it's real valentine thrills and spills you're after, pick up MY BLOODY VALENTINE instead, or to a lesser extent, HOSPITAL MASSACRE. As for this letdown, all I can say is Harry Warden would be so dissapointed... I sure was...
BODYCOUNT 9 female:6 / male:3
1) Female has her throat slit
2) Female is shot with arrows atop a flight of stairs, where upon she stumbles off the
railing, falling to her death
3) Male burned and beaten to death with a hot iron
4) Male axed in the back
5) Female killed offscreen
6) Female has throat forced onto a broken pane of glass
7) Female electrocuted in a hot tub with a power drill
8) Male found decapitated
9) Female shot