- Marley Shelton as Kate
- David Boreanaz as Adam
- Denise Richards as Paige
- Jessica Capshaw as Dorothy
- Jessica Cauffiel as Lily
- Katherine Heigl as Shelley
A hugely clichéd yet watchable slasher film, Valentine is a guilty pleasure to view before Halloween. The job gets done pretty well and through some good parts, it retains a good few jolts. Not terribly original but adequate and quite fun.
In flashback, we glimpse a junior high Valentine’s dance. The awkward and gawky Jeremy Melton asks a succession of popular girls( Shelley, Paige, Lily, Kate and Dorothy) to dance. The first three girls harshly reject him, nice Kate politely declines and the plump Dorothy takes an interest. Yet when she and Jeremy are caught kissing by a band of jocks, she lies that Jeremy assaulted her and the boys proceed to torment Jeremy mercilessly. Years later, the girls are all grown up and still very good friends, despite differing jobs and lifestyles. Kate has become a news reporter, Paige is the local maneater, Dorothy is now skinnier and seems to being getting more attention of men and Lily is something of a gossip. They are all having a bad time on the dating scene as Valentine’s Day approaches. The creepiness begins with the murder of the other girl in the friendship circle Shelley, now a medical intern, by a figure wearing a cherub mask. Prior to her death, she had received a horrible Valentine’s card that spoke of her upcoming grisly demise. The remaining girls meet up again and are shocked at her death, wondering why someone would kill her. Slowly, each of them receives a horrific card and warning that savagery will follow. Each is signed with the initials J.M, which the girls come to see as those of Jeremy Melton. In the years since their last encounter, he was put in a reform school and later a mental hospital. But as of the last few years, there has been no sign of him whatsoever. It appears that Jeremy has never forgotten the cruelty that arose from that dance and is now getting blood-soaked revenge on the now grown up women who tormented him. With the prospect that Jeremy has obviously changed and may have well undergone surgery, the remaining girls are frightened that it could be any number of guys in their lives. Could it be Kate’s on-off boyfriend Adam, who has a drink problem? Or the sleazy cop assigned to the case? And will this be a Valentine’s Day to die for?
Jamie Blanks directs with a good enough touch for the weak and uninspired material. His work won’t win any awards, but he wrings some good suspense and horror from the film that can’t be sniffed at. You can see that Valentine is trying to be a throwback to 80’s slashers with scantily clad babes being menaced by a killer. On that score it is pretty entertaining actually. And going into Valentine I knew it would be something of a mess and to an extent it is, though it has its moments that generate scares. It’s pretty obvious from the start of the killings that it is Jeremy, so hearing as the girls discuss that it may not be is a bit stupid. And the characters are not exactly likable people, except Kate who is the only one who shows an ounce of decency and was the only one who didn’t humiliate Jeremy. Then again, the others are supposed to be nasty pieces of work so when they are dispatched there is a level of glee to be felt. The dialogue gets inane and pretty clunky in the long run of Valentine, the screenplay is not exactly what you’d label a coherent one as it has a lot of plot holes. People make stupid decisions like wandering off alone when there is a masked killer on the loose and leaving doors unlocked. Because it is a horror film and movie logic pertains that characters don’t need to use any brain cells. What surprised me about Valentine was that it dealt with bullying, albeit in a way that was not exactly revelatory. As someone who was bullied in school, I know how it feels to be on the outside. That isn’t to say that I promote or condone offing those who have wronged you, but there is a feeling of catharsis as each of the bullying girls is killed that I’m sure many people could relate to. There is a poetic justice to each killing, that links to what each girl said to Jeremy on the night all those years ago that comes back to haunt them severely and in imaginative fashion. In terms of style, Valentine has a moody one that is actually quite good if I must say so with a presence of morose blue and scarlet red apparent throughout. It’s not going to craft the film into an immensely great piece of horror art, but it does the job. The look of the killer, with the cherub mask is a surprisingly creepy one that will no doubt get a few shudders in the audience for its ability to unsettle. A hard rock soundtrack is used effectively, along with the suspenseful score that elevates the tried and tested film up a few notches.
The characters are thinly drawn but played reasonably well by the attractive cast. Marley Shelton stands out the most as the most amiable girl, who displays actual kindness and humility unlike her bitchy friends. She is the girl that you want to survive the killings as she was the one who wasn’t a complete terror to the spurned and brutalised Jeremy. The other girls are all pretty interchangeable in their nastiness and shallowness, but Jessica Capshaw and Jessica Cauffiel are quite good. The pouting bitchiness and sexiness is provided by Denise Richards as the loose member of the group and it’s not much in the way of acting, but she makes for a good victim. All of the men in this film are portrayed as either louses, cheats or just plain slimy. David Boreanaz emerges unscathed as probably the most developed man in the movie. Katherine Heigl is simply required to be the first of the ladies to perish, though her death is a pretty effective one that opens the movie in the morgue.
It is a majorly predictable movie and not one of the best horrors you will come across. But with a bit of style and a sense of catharsis about it, Valentine is a slick film that doesn’t require much from the mind but has an entertainment quota to it that you don’t have to be a genius to see. No vintage horror film, yet watchable enough.