I have distinct memories of watching Valentine as a kid. I didn’t go to the theatre; instead, I watched it on those TV channels that are exclusively for movies. My memory tells me it was a good watch. I mean, I remember watching it way more than once, so, it must’ve had some sort of charm… right? Let’s find out.
Valentine is a movie directed by Jamie Blanks and stars Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, and Marley Shelton amongst others. The movie opens with a middle school dance. There’s a nerdy kid named Jeremy that is asking girls to dance. All but one of the girls say no, one thing leads to another, and they’re making out under the bleachers. After a few moments, they get caught by the “cool kids” and the girl, whose name is Dorothy, tells the boys that he attacked her. Then, as the middle school rules state, Jeremy gets beat up in front of everybody at the dance.
Now, let’s flash forward about 13 years and that’s where this movie takes place. In my eyes, this is where Valentine tries to follow in the footsteps of Psycho and most recently, Scream. I say that because for what essentially is the movie’s second opening sequence, they use Katherine Heigl as the first victim. Katherine Heigl had a lot of momentum because of Roswell, and they probably wanted to use her as this movie’s Drew Barrymore/Janet Lee. Does it work? Let’s find out as we break this down to be a little more precise. Let’s start with what bothered me.
To be completely frank, there is a lot wrong with this movie. The first kill doesn’t set the right tone. It’s a pretty lazy and boring kill that leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth as far as what you’re anticipating for the rest of the viewing.
The number of red herrings in this movie is more than it should be, for sure. They focus on a few people for the killer and, I get that it’s a whodunnit, but it goes off the rails with how many times they want you to be like: “Wow! I think this person did it! Wait, no, it’s that person!” and it ends up coming off as very convoluted for no reason. The worst one is when they lock in on the Jason Marquette character. The only reason they focus hard on him is that he has the same initials as the nerdy kid they picked on in middle school, Jeremy Melton. Really? Why would he keep the same initials if he changed his name on purpose to disguise himself and pick you off one by one and send all of you valentines with his real initials on them? It’s an oversight that really bothers me.
Another issue I have with this movie is how uncreative most of the deaths are. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate on kills that get straight to the point, but these rub me the wrong way. An axe in the back? That’s it? Furthermore, there were a couple of filler deaths that were just that—filler. They don’t add anything and only serve as a way for the studio to say: “Hey! Add more deaths!” Normally, that’s not a bad thing, but, they’re most definitely phoned in, quick shot deaths.
Two more things that need to be mentioned are the score and the killer reveal. Firstly, the score is okay. I’m putting it with the bad because it’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not very good. Maybe I’m harsh, but the score was just… there. Nothing was added because of it, but nothing was taken away as far as the impact of certain scenes. Lastly, the killer reveal made me laugh. Now, the reason I laughed isn’t because of how cheap and corny the reveal was (which it was). More so, it was because of the look on the killer’s face when it was revealed. Also, the killer’s nose bleeds when they kill somebody and it was intentionally ignored at the end so the “big” reveal could happen, so, that was a little odd.
I’m a fan of the killer in this movie. I know I talked about how bad the reveal was, but, the killer has a pretty great Michael Myers vibe to him that I completely dig. The outfit is a little bland, but the mask is very cool to me. He wears this weird cherub mask that hits all the right notes. The way he slowly treads along as he’s on his way to murder reminds me a little of Nick Castle’s glide as Michael Myers. The killer has a deliberate pace when he walks, and that’s a nice touch to have.
Also, I’m a fan of the letters/gifts that the killer sends the girls throughout the movie. There is a great scene where a couple of the girls are hanging out at an apartment and there’s a knock at the door. One of the girls goes to check it and notices a box of chocolates left at the door. She goes inside and opens them, takes a bite out of one and notices that it’s filled with maggots. Yeah, maggots. It’s gross and hits all of the disturbing notes that make you cringe at the screen while watching. I love it.
The deaths in this movie are very hit and miss. That being said—when they hit, they hit. One that left me smiling was when the girls were at this art exhibit and one of the girls gets lost in this weird maze filled with body parts on various TVs and then gets shot with numerous arrows. I’ve always thought that death was very fitting for the theme of the movie. The killer has a cupid/cherub mask on. Think about it. Did you get it? It’s cool, right? There’s also a very memorable hot tub death involving a drill and a death that includes a glass shard that’ll make you wince.
I know I said that the opening kill gives you a sour taste in your mouth, and, while that’s true, there’s one moment in that sequence that makes me smirk. There’s a part where Katherine Heigl is about to cut into the corpse with her scalpel and the stomach moves as if it’s breathing. On first viewing, it’s jarring to see and it’s, to me, one of those jump scares that actually work.
At the end of the day, I actually enjoy Valentine. I’m not sure if you’d believe me after reading a lot of this review, but I do. It’s a very “shut off your brain” type of slasher that you need to have sometimes. There’s nothing too crazy going on in it. Denise Richards does a great job with her character, David Boreanaz isn’t too bad and, for the most part, everybody plays their role really well.
Although it’s, for the most part, the type of slasher that Scream cleverly pokes fun at while simultaneously riding the Scream popularity train, it’s a good time. It’s one of the most well-acted slasher movies that you could watch, and it’s also a good amount of dumb fun. I’d definitely recommend any slasher fan that’s never seen this movie before to give it a chance.