Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Roses are red, Violets are Blue...": Valentine (2001)

Valentine (2001)
starring: Denise Richards, David Boreanaz and Marley Shelton

"...They'll need dental records
to identify you..."

Jeremy Melton was a young nerdy kid in 1988 who just wanted to dance with the popular girls. The young lad got rejected as he bravely passes through the It group one girl at a time, until he met a plump yet equally posh gal who took his advances in pity. But when they're caught making out by a group of bullies, she tore herself away from Jeremy and called him a pervert. Humiliated, beaten and thrown to a reform school for his "assault", Jeremy vows vengeance...

Now, thirteen years passed, a pre-med student had her job dissecting corpses set aside when a cherub-masked killer attacks and cuts her neck, disposing her in a conveniently provided body bag. Turns out she was one of the five girls that rejected Jeremy and the rest of them suspect that he's back to exact his vengeance all while being taunting them with grim valentine cards and maggot-infested chocolates. It soon becomes a race against time to identify the now faceless killer, and stop him before they're all murdered.

Not the kind of "bow and arrow" you want
in your heart

Valentine is technically just a slasher. I don't see anything remarkable to point out from it other than the fact that the film's very cliched and campy; in terms of plotting, the story is predictable and too familiar to be anything different, and the cast of, yet again, teen stars, the prominent victims of 90s horror, played one dimensional characters. Nagging to be told, too, was the film's continuity problems which were dozens, ranging from the tiny things you wouldn't notice at all (such as the style of incisions one character was doing at the early scene) to some questionable plausibility (the scene with the pool, for example, where the killer delivers a rose to a would-be victim and yet was able to hide in a very enclosed room with little to no place to do so at all!)

In terms of gore, there's none; the kills were very basic and most of them occurred offscreen, leaving the film partially dry in comparison to most slashers. Then again, this was the 90s, and gore is technically not the wave back then; instead, Valentine make up for this with some fair murders that stood out for their execution and style (Powerdrill scene anyone?)

As it lost some of the primary critical elements that makes a horror movie watchable, Valentine relied on its cliches and simplicity for entertainment. The whodunit plot had its moments of engagement thanks to an intentionally campy overtone despite an overly serious and mature feel. In fact, comparing to this film's director's (Jamie Blanks) previous slasher Urban Legend, this film was more plotted, rather than being a basic throw of reused story structures that is stalk and kill. There's still stalking, and there's definitely a lot of killing, but it took its time building its suspense that makes the mystery a worthwhile watch, if not all flawed.

Wrong place at the wrong time

As a holiday slasher, it also got a few points for being a satire on the holiday. Comparing this to the recent reboot of My Bloody Valentine 3D, a film which its original was more holiday oriented, Valentine had the 14th day made with its outlandish Heart-day themed scenarios and plot devices. The cherub-masked killer is a darkly-comic touch, giving much irony to the holiday as the mythical figure of Love uses a bow and arrow to murder an unfortunate gal (speaking of which, guess you didn't know the killer's nosebleeding habit is a nod to another slasher, Alone in the Dark (1982), more specifically, a killer named "Bleeder"), and so does the extensive uses of parties as a killing ground, with this being the only film I know who used two Valentine themed parties to crash in and had murders occured.

One of the highlights of the film: The Powerdrill scene

I wouldn't say it's a masterpiece, it's more of a flawed gem that attempted to be different, but it's simplistic nature got the better of the film. But it's far from unwatchable; in fact, if you ever felt lonely in Valentines Day, I suggest you rent a copy of this film and just laugh the pain out. I'm sure you'll get your girl/guy next time but until then, have a great Valentine.

1 female had neck cut with knife
1 female shot on the gut with bow and arrow
1 male bludgeoned to death with steam iron
1 male axed on the back
1 female found murdered
1 female thrown through shower window, dropped neck-first to a shard
1 female electrocuted in pool with a plugged power drill
1 male head found
1 female repeatedly shot
total; 9


  1. Yeah - what you found a nice nod - the nosebleed - I found to be too much a ripoff. I mean - throwing in a small moment that suggests another older movie - like having the killer find a prop weapon from a different killer movie and discarding it - would be a cool thing. But to hinge your entire plot on a twist that came from an older and better movie? Too much. Three strikes and this movie is out. But still a nice review, Mr. K!

  2. Yes, Alone was a better film, but i never find valentine to be attempting anything else but to be basic, even if Blanks suggested it isn't. I see too many simplisties here to mark it any better, so I'm rating this on entertainment value and the killer alone. The rest if questionable.