Retro Review: Valentine

Sweet revenge, terrified co-eds, and a masked stalker. Sound familiar? To me it sounds like almost every slasher film made to this date. Valentine is pretty much cut from the same cloth.

Twenty-something groupies Paige (Denise Richards), Kate (Marley Shelton), Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw) and Lily (Jessica Cauffiel) have been friends since before the sixth grade. But when one of their classmates ends up murdered it seems to be linked to the girls and their past. You see back in the sixth grade they humiliated a struggling boy named Jeremy Milton. For the past thirteen years they have laughed and grinned at the very thought of young Jeremy. Now it seems that he could be the very link to their eventual demise. Poor, poor girls.

Valentine is basically your everyday run of the mill slasher horror film with Hollywood finding more ways to kill beautiful voluptuous co-eds. The only real difference here is that these girls don’t live in the same sorority. But putting the obvious aside it does on some level work. It has a beginning, middle and an end that follow the plot. There are some tension scenes that will delight fans of Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th films) and Michael Myers (of Halloween fame). And we also have some beautiful young stars to dream about.

I guess we could chalk this one up for the kids. I mean it’s set right up for them. We have a cast of hunks and starlets. Some brought to us from nighttime soaps and others from popular films. You have hunk David Boreanaz (of TV’s Angel) as Adam, Kate’s struggling alcoholic boyfriend; Katherine Heigl (TV’s Roswell) as a terrified med-student and Daniel Cosgrove (TV’s Beverly Hills 90210) as Dorothy’s not-so-wholesome boyfriend, Campbell.

Before stating the obvious flaws that are quite plentiful in Valentine, I would like to mention a couple standout performances and some interesting camera work. I really like that Hollywood is giving actress Marley Shelton more leading roles. I think this girl does have oodles of talent when she is teamed up with an equally talented cast. It’s really a shame her on-screen love interest was like oil to her water. Her on-screen man in this film is David Boreanaz who can’t seem to shake his brooding Angel persona.

The other stand-out was Richards, who is such a tease and the only one on-screen who seems to be in touch with their sexuality. She sizzles here. She could have wiped the floor with this Cupid Slasher if the script would have allowed it.

Finally I come to the interesting camerawork. Director Jamie Blanks, who also directed Urban Legend, does some interesting camera work. With the grizzly Urban Legend he did find interesting and dark ways to kill people and in Valentine his journey continues. In his latest entry, there are some scenes I liked a lot visually. The sex-art-show was a head-scratcher but fascinating. The opening morgue scene was also shot really nicely. Because Blanks didn’t shy away from gruesome violence he will surprise some theatre goers on how the victim will perish.

As I write this review I begin to reflect back on this film and it was hard to pinpoint anything really new that was brought to the slasher genre. I mean it had a masked stalker (this time with a Cupid mask), a cliffhanger ending which begs sequel, beautiful victims, some real unlikable characters and a terror wrenching opening scene. The only thing I thought was different was that the bad guy dies way to easy. It’s like they pulled the plug and said yep he’s dead. Another point I don’t get is how come it took 4 writers to put this thing together. I mean how hard is it to write a slasher flick?

What made me cringe most of all is that this film was oozing sexuality but the chemistry on screen never sizzled. It was like watching a junior high school prom where all the girls are along one wall and the boys along another. I mean when Shelton and Boreanaz smooched like Boreanaz was kissing a fifteen year old girl. It was a little disturbing. Then you have Cosgrove and Capshaw who seem to be to caught up in their character to really acknowledge the fact that they are supposed to have lust for each other. It’s a shame we really needed some friction and romance to make this film really work.

2.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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