YEAR OF RELEASE
February 2nd 2001
A victim gets thrown through glass then her head gets rammed into the remaining long piece!
At a Valentine’s Day party held at a school a young and unpopular Jeremy Melton just wants to have a dance but every girl he asks turns him down! Who wants to be seen with a geek who wears glasses and nobody likes! Approaching the “fat girl!”, they dance and kiss but when a gang of boys spot them and start to tease, the girl accuses Jeremy of attacking her and this ‘pervert’ is exposed to the world, stripped, beaten and humiliated in front of all the school poor Jeremy was scarred for life, institutionalized in older life and was never heard of again. Completely forgotten to the crowd that day! heard from since.
13 YEARS LATER and a core of girls who rejected him that day, best friends Kate, Paige, Shelley, Lily and Dorothy (the fat girl which the smarter girls befriended her eventually) are being targeted one by one by someone leaving them ugly Valentine messages and maggot-infested chocolates. Desperate for help, they turn to Detective Vaughn for help and soon they realise that it could be the young boy they humiliated all those years ago! But nobody knows what Jeremy looks like after 13 years. Could he still be the ugly kid he looked like at school? Soon they are harassed by a masked fiend in a Cupid mask and the game becomes deadly when bodies start to show up, the girls realise that they must find the boy they hurt before its too late, because nothing is more evil than a broken man!
“Cupid draw back your bow and let you arrow flow, straight to my lovers heart for me….”
I am quite shocked that the classic Sam Cook song was never considered for this movie, because that much admired love song and its lyrics has a whole new meaning when you compare to what happens in the running time of this noughties slasher. When you talk about a good slasher with the word Valentine in the title then 99% of fans will shout My Bloody Valentine at the top of their voice! The much criticised and unloved Valentine never registers in the minds of fans everywhere, it has become a forgotten piece in the horror vault, unloved, unrespected, a casualty of the tail end of the new boom which began five years before with the arrival of Scream!
You’ll probably be hard pressed to find a good review about this anywhere, it was a bomb at the box office with even fans of the genre putting their noses up in the air with the quality on offer! I admit Valentine is not the best ever made, even I myself dismissed it on first watch, but having watched it again for the first time in ten years last night, I was surprised by some moments of real good horror that was unexpected! Yes its still has many flaws, even the script makes you weep at times, but I can think of at least three films that have more love than this but do not offer many good scenes that Valentine offers up.
Let me explain!
For a start I did not realise or better still had forgotten that the once but now forgotten Rom Com Queen Katherine Heigl was even in this movie. Totally unrecognisable with black hair and a very young look, this was long before she got Knocked Up by Seth and back then was more famous for her roles in cough My Father The Hero and cough..coiugh..Under Siege 2, so it was a bit of a shock seeing her right at the start of this move!
Then I realised why I had forgotten she was in this, because the fact was she was in the begining of this movie! which meant that in about ten minutes she would be meeting her fate in a dark and bloody fashion! Before anyone cries Spolier alert, you got to remember this was made after Scream and since Wes Craven had fun playing with Drew Barrymore with the now infamous start of the Ghostface saga, every film that followed had the same blueprint. Lets just say if you was an actress in the mid 90’s and was offered a role in a horror film where you were the first girl to appear on screen, then it was a very good chance that your role would be a brief one!
But what shocked me with Valentine is actually how good the opening set piece is! Shelley (Heigl) just coming back from a disaster of a date (something she would get used too in future films) begins to operate on a dead body for her medical exam at the local morgue! She hears a noise from the deep dark corridor, goes for a look, the music plays, every one expects the first look of this killer, but what we get is her bumping into another medic who asks her is she going to be ok on her own! With the answer “yes!” which is a death call for all slash horror, Shelley goes back to her dead body and is all set to use the scalpel when we see the body “breathe!” Now I have to put my hands up and be impressed by this, it was unexpected and a real underrated slash piece, and shockingly, it gets better! Shelley runs, the body rises and its here we get a glimpse of the new killer on the scene and hats off for the makers with the design!
I totally loved the mask! The Cupid image was a real cool look and for me is up there with the best and 15 minutes into the film I was hooked! How this pans out I will not say but you can guess that poor Shelley does not live past the twenty minute mark, but Valentine up until here is a real blast, a great opening sequence that you can only hope the rest of the film follows suit! This new kid on the block is very Michael Myers, his style, his brutal efficiency, its quite easy for slash fans to instantly fall in love with the psycho and it helps that his introduction to the lore of evil killers is with such a strong set-piece! Sadly though, the film fails to build on this start and after such a strong opening, you can only be disappointed when the final credits roll!
What goes wrong after this sequence is simply a lack of any originality! The plot runs off into a by the book slash formula and after Scream which bristled with energy and wit, Valentine sadly went back to a style set out before Drew picked up that phone! That is not to say that Valentine is a total heartbreaker! There is one death scene among an art studio where flashes of art is displayed on screen that is pretty strong for being a maze like terror but fundamentally Valentine’s biggest mistake is the failure to build up any originality with even the “guess the killer!” played out dramatically wrong!
One of the main strength of 90’s late slashers was the Scooby Doo behind the mask plot that had horror fans guessing the killer! Even if you made an awful slash you still was guaranteed fans having fun because it worked either has a date night or friend gathering event! The I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise, to the Urban Legend films to even The Clown At Midnight were all slashers that worked because of this fun element (and all that will be reviewed here), but Valentine is poor because the killer virtually walks around with “its me!” on their forehead! Not even the double bluff at the end will shock you because right from the off when you see these core characters its quite simple to understand where this film is going to end up.
The core characters themselves are not very clever and fail to entice any sympathy especially with sex on legs, Denise Richards eyebrow’s going into hyper overdrive every time they are on screen. Now when I say sex on legs I don’t mean that personally, this is not that kind of review, its just here she seems to have every single man after her, I mean she only looks at them and they all go weak at the knees. But I suppose its easy believe in this than her being a Nuclear Scientist in that Bond flick!
Its not that you can relate to them either! They are all rich and live in their huge mansions, its a real 90210 feel to it, these characters really don’t know what problems are and the bit I find funny is that poor Jeremy gets beaten and attacked by a gang of boys at the beginning, but yet goes after the girls who turned him down for a dance! Surely it would have worked better if there was a Valentine High School Reunion where all this people have now grown up but in the wings lies in wait a tormented man, hell bent on revenge! Now that seems like a pretty better idea than what was served on here because even the killings are random and few and far between!
The biggest crime though is the many laughs you get from watching! Most horrors are nortorious for characters doing stupid things but Valentine really takes it to a whole new level! Here we have a killer somewhere in the house so one of the girls decides to go away from the crowd at a big party and go as far away has possible to take a dip in a hot tub! Now there is stupid and just plain dumb and even then when she hears a noise, she turns and says “who is there!” which every single viewer will shout “Its the killer you dumb bitch! who else do you think it is?”
There are some decent kills that honour the genre, but the stupid decision to cut the violence and gore by the studio harms the impact but hey at least a decent score moves things along. The killer is the best thing in this entire movie and if you love your slash, dumb and stupid, (which to be fair, the majority are) then you will get some enjoyment out of this.
Director Jamie Blanks who also directed Urban Legend actually went on record and apologised for this film, but to be fair to him it does look good and I think its much better than his previous film. Blanks can film a good sequence as shown in some quarters here, but the badly lazy script is the main problem of Valentine where for a film about love and cherish, it seems not much was put into the writing and for that, Valentine plays like an ex partner! Starts off good but slowly gets tiring until in the end there is nothing but a sad emptiness……….
Jason rates Valentine: 1 JASON MASK OUT OF 3