Reviewed By Erik Childress
Posted 02/09/01 10:53:30

"The Best Revenge Is Living Well...And Killing Everybody"
1 stars (Total Crap)

Does Variety, the entertainment Bible for professionals in the industry, do their job anymore? Do newspapers in California print the ads and reviews for movies anymore? If they still do, then how can one explain how studios in Hollywood continue to spew out the same old vomitous masses of celluloid when they should realize that their time has passed?

In the last 5 years, we’ve all seen (or at least heard about) the Scream trilogy, an on-the-mark satire of the horror genre that was even good enough to drum up more than a few scares. Last summer, we experienced the Wayans’ Scary Movie, a parody of a satire that took all the ingrained cliches and spoofed them to the raunchiest end. You would think the slasher film would rest in peace…at least for awhile. After the Zuckers brought us Airplane, it took 16 years before the multiplexes were attacked with a barrage of disaster pictures. This time, it’s only 7 months. Babies are still waiting to be born and yet here we are in February with the latest masked killer opus named after a themed holiday. And frankly, those babies must be the target audience of Valentine, because their unformed intellect suits (and surpasses) the brains that it took to make this film.

Thirteen years ago, a nerdy looking boy (complete with glasses and zits) gets rejected by nearly every girl at the school dance. One girl tells him “maybe later”. He smiles and then asks the chubby girl to cut a rug. Instead they swap spit underneath the bleachers only to be later caught. When the fattie is more embarrassed about her tongue locking with the school dork than her own appearance, she feeds him to the wolves (instead of eating him herself), practically accusing him of rape. This leads to a beating and a stripping and some laughing and you can see where this is going.

Flash forward to the scene that sums up the stupidity of Valentine. Shelley (Katherine Heigl) is doing some late-night work at the morgue after a disastrous date. Her cold, blue, dead cadaver lies on her table. She hears a noise and goes to investigate, naturally turning out to be nothing. Are you ahead of me yet? She comes back to make her first incision into the body, when the chest expands in a breath. As she freaks out, the body disappears and about a minute later appears the stalking killer, now fully clothed, complete with a long coat and a cupid mask. How did he get dressed so fast? Why did he strip down to imitate a cadaver when he was at risk of getting cut? Why does Shelley think it’s a good idea to hide in a body bag?

Well, she dies. And in true Big Chill fashion, it brings together her old school chums. There’s the slutty bitch, Paige (Denise Richards), the dumb blond Lily (Jessica Cauffiel, fresh from Urban Legends: Final Cut), the fattie-turned-hottie Dottie, I mean, Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw, Kate’s daughter) and the “maybe later” nice girl, Kate (Marley Shelton). Kate is dating hunky, on-again/off-again-alcoholic sportswriter, Adam (David Boreanaz of TV’s Angel) and the others all have their little boytoys as well. Soon enough, each one of them starts receiving psychotic valentine cards signed “JM” and through the most remarkable examples of intuition since the Reichstag fire, they conclude it must be that dorkus Jeremy Melton.

Of course, none of the characters are branded with the initials “JM” (except for one) so someone must have changed their name, right? Well, maybe. Either way, the motive for the killing spree is both obvious and murky. If it is Jeremy, why’d he wait so long? And why does he only go after the girls? Sure they turned him down and made fun of him, but it was the boys who stripped him down to his skivvies and kicked the crap out of him. The boys are never mentioned again. And if it isn’t Jeremy, what would be the point?

Quality kills, I guess. And for my money, I was rooting for Cupid and shouldn’t the audience too? We may not approve of his methods, but we can certainly sympathize with Jeremy and the hurt he felt on that gym floor in a rejected bloody pulp. We get nine kills including a hot iron to the face, electrocution, an axe to the back (where the actor essentially reacts as if he’s taking a dump), glass impaling and my favorite, the Cupid stand-by, the bow-and-arrow. And how can you not root for the killer? All the female characters are written incredibly flat, but not presented that way, as every shot of them dares the projectionist to frame out the bustline. Still, not one nude scene from any of the major players. Denise Richards in a bikini is the best they can do. Apparently, Valentine is a stepping stone to respectability for her. Good career move, Denise.

A lot of big names amongst the youngsters are to be found here. And while, not a single one of them can be commended in their script choice on this one, the oddest element of Valentine is not its complete absence of suspense, its unbelievable inconsistencies, or a lack of more than a single rootable character, its that the acting is surprisingly…not that bad. David Boreanaz shows that given the right role in a decent comedy, could pull off the charming lead. The same goes for Marley Shelton (Pleasantville, Sugar and Spice) and even Jessica Capshaw. Denise Richards is certainly no thespian and probably doesn’t even know what that word means, but she can play this kind of role with her shirt off (and often does).

One could easily expect Valentine to be a bad film. One could go as far to use the word, suck, in their explanation. But in the hands of director unextraordinaire Jamie Blanks, Valentine sucks, blows, bites, and eats even by crappy horror film standards. Partially in part to what is conceivably one of the worst screenplays ever written by, believe it or not, FOUR SCREENWRITERS, that was even adapted from a novel! Blanks is so untalented that he resorts to giving Brian DePalma a taste of his own Hitchcockian medicine by referencing Carrie (punch gets poured on Jeremy like the pig’s blood) and Body Double (the mega-sized power drill). And even if it were written before Boreanaz were cast, who decided to keep in the explanation of his character by saying “he’s no angel?” Frankly, who cares?

Valentine is the worst kind of horror film. It doesn’t scare. Its kills are uninspired. And it doesn’t even acknowledge the cliched ridiculousness of its own existence. That makes it and its creators arrogant time wasters.

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