We’re just several days out from everyone’s least favourite fake holiday – Valentine’s Day. During the golden era of the slasher film, horror producers gave just about every calendar holiday the movie treatment. Even April Fool’s Day was treated to a horror movie adaptation. When Wes Craven turned the subgenre on its head with Scream he inadvertently re-ignited a brief slasher renaissance. Over the next few years, several horror movies got the green light that to all the slasher conventions none of the self-awareness. At the tail-end of this revival, on February 2nd 2001, Valentine was dumped into theatres and quickly forgotten].
At their sixth grade dance, awkward and shy Jeremy Melton asks several popular girls to dance. Though he is rejected one after the other, Dorothy shows some kindness and accepts. But when other kids catch them kissing him under the bleachers, Dorothy lies and accuses Jeremy of attacking her. Several bullies then beat Jeremy up, humiliation him. Years later, the same girls who rejected Jeremy begin receiving threatening Valentine’s cards. A figure wearing a Cherub mask is stalking and killing them one by one. Has Jeremy Melton returned to seek his revenge?
Like a Cheap Box of No-Name Chocolate
Valentine is as generic as no-name pharmacy store Valentines Day chocolate. Nothing in the 90-plus minutes of this film even rises to the level of ‘so bad, it’s good’. This is the cinematic equivalent of a bowl of melting vanilla ice cream. The screenplay is lazy. Apparently social rejection and minor bullying prompts juvenile delinquency, institutionalization, and adult homicidal behaviour.
…most of these red herrings are killed as quickly as they’re introduced.
All the characters are based on horror movie stereotypes older than most of the movie’s actors. Marley Shelton is Kate Davies, the ‘nice one’ and obvious ‘final girl’. Denise Richards plays ‘Paige’ the ‘promiscuous one’, and Jessica Capshaw is Dorothy, the formerly overweight, insecure one. Red herrings are introduced and quickly discarded. Is Gary, the pervert neighbour, the adult Jeremy Melton? Or is it Campbell, the gold-digging boyfriend? Or Jason Marquette (J.M.), the obnoxious blind date? Maybe the killer is Adam, Kate’s alcoholic ex-boyfriend, played by David Boreanaz, who was riding the wave of Angel at the time. None of this matters because most of these red herrings are killed as quickly as they’re introduced.
Prepare to Not Be Scared … Ever
Arguably, Valentine’s biggest problem is that it’s not scary. Ever. Instead, Valentine is a flavourless assortment of tired tropes. Victims run but are somehow still caught by a killer who never breaks from a brisk stride. If you’re concerned about getting too scared there’s no need to worry because the rising crescendo of creepy music will let you know when the jump scare is coming. Just be forewarned that almost every jump scare in the film is proceed by a fake-out. The only thing Valentine is missing is that scene where the victim adjusts the bathroom mirror and the killer appears.
While it’s rated-R, the death scenes are largely bloodless and pretty straightforward.
Lazy script-writing in slasher films can still get you a passing grade. If you can deliver a memorable killer and innovative death scenes, all is well. Sadly, Valentine is as disappointing as a bad blind date on both fronts. The movie’s killer wears a cherub mask that is the exact opposite of scary; he also gets nosebleeds after every murder.
In contrast to classic 1980’s slasherss, the slasher-lite renaissance that followed Scream (1996) were surprisingly light on both graphic violence and nudity. Unfortunately for gorehounds, Valentine is no different. While it’s rated-R, the death scenes are largely bloodless and pretty straightforward. One scene involving a hot tub cover and drill is entertaining, but it’s hardly a classic and fails to energize this lifeless film. When a floating head surfaces in a pond it gives the audience a pretty strong hint as to why the camera cuts away quickly during most of the film’s kills – the special effects are cheap-looking.
Swipe Left On Valentine
At over an hour and half, Valentine long overstays its welcome. Nothing remotely scary happens during this time. Even worse, the ending offers an absolutely pointless fake-out that is both obvious and a rip-off. Like a bad online dating profile, Valentine knows what audiences want to see, but only offers a photo-shopped imitation. If you’re planning on staying in this Valentine’s Day and are looking for a good scary movie, swipe left on Valentine.