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VALENTINE






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Release: 2001, Warner Bros.
Starring: Marley Shelton, Denise Richards, David Boreanaz
Director: Jamie Blanks
MPAA Rating: [R] violence, language, sexuality, nudity
Genre: Horror


Love hurts...

Summary
Young women suspect a former classmate is hunting them down as they are killed off one by one in Valentine's Day-related murders.

What's Good
a video museum in the movie is visually interesting
some of the girls are also visually interesting

What's Bad
has one of the lamest villains ever to grace a slasher flick
lots of bad acting, bad stories, and bad dialogue
many of the murderer's tactics are ridiculously unbelievable

Commentary
Reviewer: Andrew Manning (02/01)

Kate, Paige, and their small circle of friends were the popular girls in grade school, and as popular kids are apt to do, they picked on the class nerd. Their teasing culminates in a false accusation against the boy at a Valentine's Day dance that ruins his life and makes February 14 a painful day of remembrance for him. Fast forward into adulthood, and the girls are all grown up and enjoying life. But their peaceful existence is shattered when they are terrorized by mysterious Valentine's cards laced with brutal threats, and one of the girls is murdered, her throat slashed open.

This is the set-up for Valentine, a thoroughly inane slasher horror featuring one of the fruitiest villains to ever come from the genre. I always thought the Gorton's Fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer was the lamest killer the slasher flicks had to offer, but this movie is forcing me to rethink that idea. Valentine features a murderer who wears a Cupid mask. And we're not even talking the tough-guy Cupid from ancient mythology who was supposed to embody lust--we're talking the chubby, baby-faced bastard Americans have come to associate with the holiday. What's next? A homicidal maniac dressed up like Big Bird? The Indian from the Village People going on a scalping rampage?

The "good guys" in this movie are barely more appealing than the third-rate villain. Mostly snobby, self-absorbed characters, they never fully appreciate the gravity of their situation. Even when one of their own gets killed, the survivors react with all the emotional torment of a bad hair day. Then they immediately get back to hitting the party circuit, making no attempts to protect themselves except for keeping in casual contact with an annoying, incompetent detective. David Boreanaz does nothing except skulk and brood, just like he does on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and Jessica Capshaw's "screw you guys" speech pulls the movie further into the category of crappy WB teen melodrama. It really demonstrates how a weak story delivered melodramatically is actually worse than no story at all.

Valentine is full of idiotic scenes from the start. Katharine Heigl, the first victim who is slashed up in the film's opening, is a medical student who has to brush up on her dissection skills. So the killer poses as her cadaver, waits until she brings the scalpel to his skin, then begins to move. Gee, isn't this brilliant? It's not often that you see the killer put themselves in such incredibly pointless mortal danger. And the fact that he times the whole thing perfectly even though his eyes are covered makes it even more unbelievable. The most absurd plot development, though, involves the demise of Denise Richards' character. She is actually killed in a hottub that has a lid. Hello? When did airtight covers become standard on hottubs? Is that for the consumer who is looking to trap themselves underwater and accidentally drown themselves? It's absolutely ludicrous.

The murders in this slasher flick aren't particularly abundant, and none of them are the least bit interesting: the killer knifes a girl in the throat, shoots another with arrows, electrocutes another, hacks a guy in the back with an axe, decapitates the detective, and blows away his last victim with a gun. It's all done in the most uncreative fashion possible, giving the movie all the creative juices of a third-grade school play.

The only thing Valentine has going for it is some eye candy. Katharine Heigl runs around as the big chested med student packed into a tight girlie shirt, and Denise Richards slinks around as the naughty vixen throughout the movie. Also, a single scene that takes place in a funky, modernized museum is visually interesting. Feeling more like a nightclub than a museum, this flashy gallery has screens with moving videos instead of paintings. The images featured also fit in with the Valentine's Day theme, and many of the looping scenes are interesting.

But of cumulative total of two or three minutes of modestly interesting footage does not a good movie make, and Valentine is otherwise a complete dud. It doesn't scare, it doesn't disturb, and it doesn't evoke your imagination. Hell, it can't even work as a full blown T&A exploitation flick. Unless you're a die hard fan of one of the stars, it's best to avoid this movie and pick up a horror film that actually has some horror in it.


Rating: 3 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)
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