Posted: Sunday, February 04, 2001

I'm not sure why I go to see movies like Valentine, unless it's the need to indulge in an occasional guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to work up even that much enthusiasm for this sad waste of time.

This is the story of five girls who, as queens of the Junior High, torment a pathetic nerd who later comes back to kill them all on Valentine's Day. Blah blah blah. It's a dumb story, obviously, but the filmmakers couldn't even muster the energy to come up with one original plot device. The killer wears a cupid mask that looks suspiciously like the mask Michael Myers wears in Halloween. The killer even stalks the victims with that same slow, idiotic stride. I'm sorry, but if someone is trying to kill me, they had better do more than stroll after me. The identity of the killer is a surprise (gotcha!) ala Scream or Urban Legends. "You mean it isn't the weird creepy neighbor?" The only creative element in the movie are the Victorian-style Valentine Cards that the killer sends to the girls. They have these creepy poems ("roses are red, violets are blue; they'll need dental records to identify you" - eeek!) and these weird little pop-up murder scenes inside. I want to know where this guy got these things printed. Unfortunately, the cards must have been too expensive to produce or something, because they drop them pretty quick.

You might be saying, "What did you expect? Didn't you see the preview?" This is a valid point, but I really did think it might be alright. After all, it seems like they spent a fair amount of money on it. It didn't go straight to video, so the studio must have had at least a little faith in it. Ok, ok, I'm an optimist. Truth be told, it's actually pretty surprising that this movie is even out at all. After all, Scary Movie basically killed the genre. That's the way it usually goes in Hollywood. A fairly good movie will come out that either introduces or reinvigorates a certain genre, like, for example, Scream. After that, a couple more good ones will come out, and then a whole rash of bad ones will appear on the scene, like, for example, every teen horror movie made after Scream. Then, along comes the parody that basically closes the book on the genre for the next five or six years. You don't remember seeing a whole lot of plane crash movies after Airplane came out, do you? And westerns were kinda hard to find between Blazing Saddles and Silverado. All of which leads me to wonder why this movie was even made. It feels very out of place, like it should have been released between I Know What You Did Last Summer and I Know What Else You Did Last Summer. The only thing I can think of is that it was filmed a couple of years ago, and has just been sitting on the shelf since then.

The acting isn't terrible. It's not great, but it's no Blair Witch 2, either Then again, how hard is a movie like this? The actors can just pop in Nightmare on Elm Street 7: Really, Really Bad Dreams or Slumber Party Massacre VI: Nightie Night and they've got all the research they need. Valentine has your basic cavalcade of no-names, although I was surprised to see Denise Richards among the cast. She's no Meryl Streep, but I did think her career was on the way up, what with her being the latest Bond girl and all. These movies are either for people on their way up who will try to hide the fact that they had to pay the rent by playing girl number 5 in Silent Night, Deadly Night, or for actors on their way down whose only script offers entail playing the strange professor that works very odd hours in Splatter University. I kept expecting Richards to be involved in some amazing plot twist or to actually be the killer, like Rebecca Gaylord was in Urban Legends. But no, she's just girl number 5.


Marley Shelton as Kate in Warner Brothers' Valentine - 2001

I realize that some people just go in for these movies, dumb or not. I had a friend in High School who would rent every Hotel Hell or I Spit on Your Grave she could get her hands on. From that point of view, I guess it's useless to give a movie like this a bad review. You know it's bad, yet you're going anyway. This review is more for the people who see the commercial and say, "Hey, that looks really scary. We haven't been to a movie together in years, honey. How about we go on a Valentine's Day date together?" You really want to give her a nice Valentine's present? Go see something else. Grade: D-

Valentine is rated R for violence, brief nudity, and language. In case anyone is wondering, it's not appropriate for children. I knew we were in trouble when I watched the two women pull up to the theater with a mini-van full of nine-year-olds. Not only is it distracting to have the whole front row giggling and shouting, but it's disconcerting thinking about what this crap is doing to young minds. Is Hollywood corrupting our children, or are we?

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